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National Air Gun Championships

The National Rifle Association held their annual National Air Gun Championship this year in Bloomington, Illinois. For two days, the best of the best of America’s air gun shooters came to Central Illinois Precision Shooting range to battle it out on May 27-28th.

Nineteen shooters made it through a series of local and regional championships to earn the right to shoot in the National Air Gun Championships. Shooters rolled into town from Alaska, Montana, Hawaii, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, Oregon…and from right here in Illinois to compete at the CIPS range, one of America’s very few certified Olympic training centers.

2017 marked the first year all ages could compete in the championships. However, juniors (under 21) topped all of this year’ shooters making it through local and sectional matches.

Deziree McBee from Colorado came out on top as the match winner, shooting an 1175/1200. Not far behind, Jonna Warnken took 2nd place at 1164 and Christina Holden shot 1162 for 3rd. Here are the complete list of results from Day One and Day Two.

In the “Sporter” division (in layman’s terms, these people use the more affordable equipment suitable for entry level participation), Elizabeth Carson brought home the winner’s trophy with a 1061/1200. Becky Lei from Hawaii was 2nd with 1050  and Ruby Pozorski took 3rd with a 1038.

Prepping to shoot…

Parents play card games and pass the time while the competitors shoot.

They the also help…

Shooters who shoot a perfect score of 100/100 during a sanctioned tournament are offered the chance to “climb the ladder” at the CIPS facility to post their signed target on the ceiling. As you might expect, it’s quite an honor.

Jaden Thompson of Bloomington, IL has her own row going.

The competitors seemed pretty relaxed and easy-going. Surprising, given the intensity of shooting in a national championship match.

More photos of the action…

Inevitably, some parents would occasionally look to check the targets.


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    • The sling provides most of the rigidity in the platform – the stiff padded jacket keeps the sling from cutting off circulation to your arms.

    • Yup. You body becomes a ransom rest, rather than trying to hold stability with just your muscles, which have more movement.

    • What Defens said + jacket has a rubbery padding on critical outside areas (i.e. elbows) to prevent you from sliding. When shooting standing up and kneeling, it gives you, as you said a rigid shooting platform. So do your pants. Wish you could see proper shoes in one of the pictures, they basically immobilize your ankle and provide perfectly flat shoe that is as big as allowed by the rules to allow you stand as steadily as possible.

    • Kind of. They are tight and somewhat uncomfortable (until you get used to them) which helps restrict your movement. They have nonskid material on your shoulder and elbows to keep you and the gun from slipping. They are also pretty thick which helps keep vibrations from your body from reaching the gun.

  1. I knew a pretty hot chick named Jenna who was an accomplished airgun and smallbore competitor…sadly, she was also an accomplished [DELETED ~ C’mon.]

    • So the glasses basically cover one of your eye so you don’t have to use your muscles to close it. This allows the other one to remain open more widely and get more light in. Just try closing one of your eyes and then compare to how it feels when you cover it with your hand. Now imagine doing that for 90 minutes. The other one usually has a corrective lens to correct for imperfect vision. If you notice people without special glasses, they usually have a piece of plastic sticking out of their sights in lieu of glasses to cover their non-dominant eye. no point spending 200 bucks on glasses if you don’t need your sight corrected.

    • I’d like to know more about that red shirt that little gal’s dad(?) is wearing. I like the hell out of it.

  2. “The competitors seemed pretty relaxed and easy-going. Surprising, given the intensity of shooting in a national championship match.”

    From my time spent in Highschool competing in smallbore rifle (yes my highschool still has a school sponsored rifle team) I can tell you if you are not relaxed and easy-going you are not going to shoot well. You need to remain calm and relaxed or you will move and shake. If you get nervous you will shake, if you shake you loss points, lots of points. They seemed relaxed because they knew they had to be relaxed to shoot well.

    Competitive smallbore rifle/airgun shooting is much different from other sports in that aspect. In other sports you can let your nerves come up a little and it not matter or you can pretty much act however you want prior to the competition and it won’t impact you too much. In precision shooting like this you must remain calm and relaxed prior to and during shooting. For my team and others we competed against if you were on the next relay, we had to get away from everyone else, come into the range, get shooting jacket on, and just sit there while the relay before us shot. This would help our eyes adjust to the lighting in the room and also help calm and relax us. It is very much a mental game.

    • …said the ignorant person who has obviously never tried it.

      This is an Olympic sport, and there is nothing silly about it.


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