(GunReports.com) — The celebration of youth competitive shooting presses on into its second week Tuesday with the start of the Women’s Air Rifle competition for the 2013 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) at the United States Olympic Training Center, April 9-12 in Colorado Springs.
Event ranges have already received a proper warm-up having hosted Men’s and Women’s Pistol competition last week with outstanding achievements earned by event champions Wyatt Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) and Alana Townsend(Kalispell, Mont.) in air rifle followed by a Robert Wells (Pontotoc, Miss.) and Starlin Chi (Potomac, Md.) in sport pistol.
Rifle competition in 10m Air and 50m Three-Position is now on tap for some of the nation’s best sharpshooters. Year in and year out, the NJOSC features some of the established stars of the sport as well as those with a desire to climb that ladder. This year is no exception.
In Women’s Air Rifle, competition will feature two 2013 NCAA Rifle Championship finalists including 2012 NJOSC bronze medalist Hannah Black (Richmond, Va.). Finishing fifth at the recent NCAA’s, Black is another in a long-line of top female shooters wearing the Texas Christian University (TCU) colors proudly. She’ll be looking to carry on the proud NJOSC tradition laid out before her by TCU teammates Sarah Scherer, Sarah Beard and Catherine Green. Other names to watch include Air Force rifle sophomoreMeredith Carpentier (Waukegan, Ill.), who finished two positions behind Black in seventh and put up an impressive 399/400 in qualifying for the NJOSC. Emily Cock (Silverton, Ore.) and Jaycee Carter (Live Oak, Calif.) are returning event NJOSC finalists from 2012.
The surname Martin will be an important one to remember as shooting unfolds in three-position smallbore (.22 caliber) later this week. The 2012 bronze medalist, Mackenzie Martin (Fairhaven, Mass.), will be looking to advance her position on the podium while Rachel Martin (Peralta, N.M.) looks to improve on her sixth-place finish from last year. Rachel most recently finished first at the Rocky Mountain Rifle Championships in February. A pair of Keystone State shooters stand ready to rain on the Martin parade including last year’s 14th place finisher Alyssa Gestl (Palmyra, Pa.) who posted the second highest score of qualification. Deanna Binnie (Hollsopple, Pa.) has been practicing in the off-season after her 19th place finish from 2012 by posting the highest qualifying score of 584.
USA Shooting’s National Junior Team members Hayley Broughton (Tulsa, Okla.) and Elizabeth Gratz(Sigel, Ill.) will also be shooters vying for top spots as the week unfolds. Broughton earned her National Team jacket with a second-place finish in the junior division air rifle event of the USA Shooting National Championships last June while Gratz has seen her stock rise steadily since last year’s NJOSC, culminating with a third-place finish in Women’s Air Rifle at the 2012 Winter Airgun Championships. Another top shooter will include Danielle Foster (Newport News, Va.), a two-event NJOSC finalist in 2012.
The NJOSC program has been growing in size and stature to become the elite youth shooting competition in the country, allowing athletes to gather for a one-of-a-kind experience.
“The Junior Olympic Shooting Championships is the next step in the development of any junior shooter and his or her Olympic Path,” said 1992 Olympian and USA Shooting’s Director of Operations, Dave Johnson.
An overwhelming majority of the current National Team members competed in a NJOSC event at some time during their careers. Former NJOSC shooter Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) is now a member of the National Rifle Team and a 2012 Olympian in Smallbore. “NJOSC was one of the most influential things that I have participated in my shooting career,” said Furrer. “The experience gave me the desire to pursue a collegiate shooting career [Ohio State University] and furthered my Olympic shooting dreams.”
Qualifying for the National competition begins at the state level as State Junior Olympic Championships included competition in 47 states utilizing 80 different USA Shooting clubs. The 2013 competition consisted of over 2,200 individual participants in rifle and pistol events. State champions and those who qualify via high scores are invited to Colorado Springs to compete in the NJSOC.
The competition takes place over a three-week period with over 500 of the finest junior shooters in attendance. The top-two finishers in each event earn a spot on USA Shooting’s National Junior Team. The 17-day event features shooting matches in Men’s & Women’s Pistol (Air/Sport) and Rifle (Air/Smallbore).