Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Junior Olympics competition may be in his future
January 25, 2017

All Alex Hoover can do now is wait.

The Plymouth, Ind., first-classman participated in a Junior Olympics precision air rifle regional qualifying competition, finishing second in the air rifle and third in the small bore (.22 caliber) events. He shot well enough to beat the 2016 cutoff by two points, but he has to wait to see if that will stand in 2017.

Practicing by playing 'Battleship'

Hoover practices by playing ‘Battleship.’

In only the second year of its revival, the coed Culver Academies Rifle Club has 10 members, with six students consistently participating in the high school matches. The Fort Wayne qualifying event was held on Jan. 7, which was over winter break, so only Hoover and junior Rachael Dodson, from Argos, participated. It was the only qualifying event in Indiana, so students from all over the state and southern Michigan participated. Dodson, in her first year shooting, finished sixth in the girls air rifle division.

Marine Sgt. Jed Trefren, the rifle club’s head coach, said Hoover should know the results by the end of the month when all the regional qualifiers are completed. Winners at each event automatically move on, but the other candidates must meet a standard that is established each year. Using a rifle he had only shot twice before the competition, Hoover took 60 shots from the standing position, scoring a 553.

Competitors shoot at targets from three positions – prone, standing, and kneeling – from a distance of 10 meters (33 feet). Normally, competitors take one shot each at 10 targets from each position. But for the Junior Olympics, competitors took all their shots from the standing position, which is considered the most difficult. There is also a time limit on taking the shots.

Hoover’s third place in the small bore category is remarkable, Trefren said, because Culver doesn’t have a small bore rifle or range. To practice, Hoover travels to the indoor shooting range in Fort Wayne where the qualifier was conducted – nearly a two-hour trip one way – to practice.

Along with the air rifle and small bore events, there are the laser pistol and pistol competitions. Trefren said adding the laser pistol would allow Culver to offer all the modern pentathlon events: fencing (epee), swimming, riding and show jumping, air pistol, and cross country running. There are also approximately 35 colleges that offer scholarships for competitive shooting, including many with ROTC programs and the service academies.

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