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Two members of the Colfax Sportsmen’s Club Scholastic Action Shooting Team claimed medals at the Scholastic Action Shooting Program’s 2021 National Match in Marengo, Ohio.
Alex Johnson proved that big things can come in small packages, according to Jim Nosker, head coach. Johnson took first place in rookie division for Optic Rifle and for Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC.) This is the first time an individual Colfax athlete has stood on the winner’s podium during the seven years Colfax has been competing. To be able to claim the honor twice is outstanding, Nosker said.
Kyle Weller, competing in the junior varsity division, nailed down second place in PCC. This is also the first time a Colfax athlete earned an individual second place in national competition.
Just short of 2,000 athletes converged on the Cardinal Shooting Center for this year’s action shooting national match. They added to the thousands already there for the Scholastic Clay Target Programs nationals for Trap, Skeet and Sporting Clays, and for the International Rifle and Pistol Precision Air Gun nationals. All together, it was one of the largest shooting matches in the world, probably second only to the Grand American, the Amateur Trap Shooting Associations annual event which draws in about 7,000 competitors.
For action shooting, the match was the largest ever in the world. It was three times larger than the next biggest action shooting event, reported Rick Leach, national director of the Scholastic Action Shooting Program.
Leach stressed that action shooting is an extremely safe sport. He said that recreational walking accounts for more injuries than action shooting does.
In past years one of Colfax’ centerfire pistol squads brought home trophies from nationals, according to Nosker. Currently the team doesn’t have any centerfire pistol shooters. Nosker said that’s partially due to the ammunition shortage brought about by the covid-19 pandemic and the political climate, and partially because team members haven’t shown an interest in putting together a centerfire pistol squad.
Currently the team fields squads which compete in rimfire rifle, both optic sighted and iron sighted; rimfire pistol, both optic sighted and iron sighted; and in pistol caliber carbine. It is also one of the smallest teams in the state.
Scholastic Action Shooting is a growing sport and Wisconsin boasts one of the largest contingents. Leach said over 500 Wisconsin athletes attended the action shooting nationals. Of the states which sent delegations, Wyoming fielded the fewest. A young lady was the only athlete from Wyoming to compete in this year’s match.
Scholastic Action Shooting is open to any student from first through 12th grade, and to college students. Athletes must maintain passing grades in school and have to handle firearms safely at all times. When an athlete is at the firing line, there is always a range safety officer and/or a coach with them. Nosker said that some years the team has had athletes so small that their rifles were longer than they were tall.
Equipment needs are minimal, he said, consisting of a .22 rimfire autoloading rifle that utilizes detachable magazines; five magazines capable of holding at least 10 rounds each; hearing protection and eye protection. Those interested in giving the sport a try don’t even need that much stuff, Nosker continued. He explained that coaches and the athletes are more than willing to loan a person whatever it is they meed to try the sport.
Nosker noted that the Colfax team has always been co-ed, but this year female athletes outnumber males. Of the team’s 11 active athletes, six of them are girls. Seven athletes went to the national match, five of them were girls, he said. Three of the team’s four rookies are females.
Action Shooting isn’t a WIAA sport, so competing in it doesn’t affect an athlete’s standing with any school team. The Colfax Action Shooting Team practices on Sunday afternoons, so that it won’t interfere with any school team practices, Nosker said.
Not only is the sport growing across the country, but the speed of the athletes is increasing, Nosker said. What were winning times five to seven years ago are shot far more regularly today and might not be enough to earn an athlete a slot in the top 10 anymore. That makes Johnson and Weller’s medals even more outstanding, he concluded.