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Shooting teams aim high
There are no cheering sections, screaming coaches or parents irate that their son or daughter seems to be getting too much bench time. In fact, there is no cheering at all, but don't for a minute think that the sport of high school shooting is not competitive.
Amid the pin-drop silence in the south gym of Corning High School, shooters from high schools that included Corning, Willows, Sutter and Lincoln took aim from a variety of positions as Corning High held its first-ever shooting competition.
"There are two divisions - Sporter and Precision," explained Corning coach Don Minto. The Sporter division is kind of like 'junior varsity,' where they have less technical rifles and they don't have a uniform."
In contrast, the Precision shooters wear special shooting uniforms, and use state-of-the-art air rifles that can cost $2,000 and up. The sporter rifles used by Corning cost around $800, and Tanner Bailey is the school's only Precision shooter.
"They shoot three positions," Minto explained, "we started at prone (laying down), and then we have off-hand, which is standing, and then kneeling."
Parents and fans are supportive, but also respectful of the skill and concentration the sport requires, so observe the need for silence. To get an idea of how precise the sport is, shooters actually have to contend with the floor reverberations caused when somebody walks across it with shoes on.
It's a sport of silence - until triggers are pulled - but a skilled shooter can still make a lot of noise when it comes to being recruited by major colleges.
Jaycee Carter, a 17-year-old Sutter senior, is a member of last year's national championship Huskies team, and has shot her way to a full-ride scholarship at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
"My dad always took us hunting and fishing," she explained of her introduction to the sport. "I started shooting with the 4-H program in 6th grade and absolutely loved it."
Carter added that not only is shooting an Olympic sport, but she estimated that 47 colleges field shooting teams. She also said many Sutter shooters have been recruited to shoot at the University of Nevada, Reno.
While Carter may have her sights set on the Olympics coming up in four years and on making the Olympic Development Team, she also expects to seize the college opportunity and pursue a degree in kinesiology and nutrition - all basically free of charge.
"It's great to have goals and achieve them, that is what I want to help people do," Carter said.
Like with any of the traditional high school sports, there can be peaks and valleys of kids wanting to so the work that goes into it, according to Minto.
"You need to have kids who are willing to come to practice and be a part of it, and give up their Saturday to compete at Sutter or Lincoln or some other place," he said.
It takes a special caliber of athlete to put in the time to make themselves a great shooter, but as Carter is demonstrating, it never hurts to take a shot.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.