More than 500 youngsters head to range for BB gun competition
ROGERS — More than 500 children and teenagers from 17 states worked in some last-minute practice Saturday, warming up for the 52nd annual Daisy BB Gun National Championship Match, the largest national 5-meter BB gun match in the nation.
Sounds similar to “snap popper” fireworks filled a John Q. Hammons Center conference room serving as a shooting range. Coaches worked with competitors between the age of 8 and 15, who fired Daisy air rifles at a target 5 meters away from four shooting positions: standing, sitting, kneeling and prone.
Jennifer Commerford, 15, warmed up with her Johnson County, Kan., 4-H Rifle Club.
She started competing three years ago and her mother, Chris Commerford said she could not have been more surprised. However, Jennifer is far from alone; it’s about a 60-40 boy to girl ratio at the match, said Lawrence Taylor, director of public relations for Daisy Outdoor Products.
“Actually, more girls end up getting medals. They tend to be more precise and disciplined,” he said.
While it isn’t as physical of a sport as many, Taylor said it’s a lot like yoga, having to hold a pose and be completely steady. Daisy CEO Keith Higginbotham said it’s all
about mental preparedness and practice.
“It’s been a great opportunity for Jennifer to learn how to focus and really apply herself and stick things out. It’s been huge,” Commerford said.
Competitors are judged on shooting accuracy with awards going to individual performance and total team score much like a track meet. However, gun safety is a primary focus at the championship. Twenty percent of each competitor’s score comes from a written test on gun handling and safety which they took Saturday.
“You can place second in every event and max out the test and win the match. It’s a very important part of the championship,” said Clyde Furr, match referee with the National Rifle Association.
About 3,000 people flooded the room during the opening ceremony Saturday night, eager to cheer on competitors in the next two days of competition.
This year, 71 teams, each with five members and two alternates, who qualified in their state will be competing in the national championship, which has been held in Rogers since 2010 and held by Daisy each year since 1966.
Jennifer will be competing Champion Shooters as the designated member of her team. Her first local competition she metaled in every event, she said, and then she was hooked.
“It’s just really fun and exciting, she said. “It’s a competition but it’s a friendly competition, and you get to know people from all over.”
Shooting coach Kamie St. Pierre (center) of Louisiana talks Saturday with contestant Katie Swanson during practice for the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match.
Shooting coaches Kamie St. Pierre (left) of Louisiana and Mason Haynes check the weight of a BB gun Saturday during practice for the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match in Rogers. Guns can weigh no more than 6 pounds.