Amelia Dell practices with an AR-15.
In September, the parents of Amelia Dell, Colton Peters and Brandon Mach took them to a shooting competition in Ohio.
It was their first competitive air rifle match, and it was the start of something big.
“They did OK, considering they had never shot in a competitive air rifle match,” Dave Dell, the program director at the Blue Water Sportsman’s Association. “Basically, they got hooked. That was in September, and since then they’ve been in probably 24 tournaments.”
The trio has been competing in matches around the state, and at times outside of it, doing well and now looking for bigger things in the sport, namely scholarships at the collegiate level, as the NCAA sponsors rifle shooting.
“My goals are that I want to try to get into college,” said Peters, 15, a sophomore at Yale High School, “and try to get onto an NCAA team.”
The air rifle and small bore rifle seasons are coming to a close, and they will be moving into high-powered season. They’re also growing from three to six, as Sierra Postill, Logan Wahl and Jonathon Gurley have joined the group.
They’ve been competing in the National Rifle Association’s Civilian Marksmanship Program. Peters earned a bronze medal at the state level Junior Olympics qualifier in December, and moved onto regional level in Ohio. While he didn’t qualify for the national event, he was in the top 30 percent of shooters in the region.
“It was really different,” Peters said. “It was actually really cool to see everybody from different states come.”
In February, they traveled to Toronto for the Canadian Air Gun Grand Prix, an international competition which featured Canadian military cadets. There, Amelia Dell came in third place in her age category.
“It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” said Dell, 14, an eighth grader at Fort Gratiot Middle School. “I’ve been spending most of my time during the week, Mondays, Tuesday and the weekend on the range, learning from all my scores.”
Competitions consist of either a 60-shot standing match – which mirrors the Olympic competition – or a three-position match, which features 20 shots seated, 20 shots kneeling and 20 shots standing. Some competitions feature both.
“It takes like two or three hours to shoot a match,” Peters said. “You stand and shoot 60 rounds, you’re pretty much up there for an hour to an hour and a half. It’s 60 rounds in a row, but they give you enough time where you can take a break.”
In the high-powered season, they’ll be shooting AR-15s, M-14 and M1 Garands, all of which have been military service firearms.
It’s probably not a surprise that the kids enjoy the high-powered season most. But it’s less about the guns and more about the environment.
“That’s primarily during the summer, spring and early fall where you’re outside,” Amelia Dell said. “You’re spending almost the entire day on the range, shooting targets.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.