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December 2012 Western Shooting Journal Magazine

WSJ December 2012 Issue

WSJ must like me. I have written three articles for them since they started printing 4 months ago and they have published all three of them. I am also finishing a 4th story they have asked me to write. I wanted to share the most recent one because it is about my state’s shooting association and the awesome junior training program we have. Not to mention the talented kids climbing the ranks of competition. Mostly, I love the Western Shooting Journal. I am excited to have a magazine that represents the West Coast community of gun enthusiasts. Most articles are written by non-journalists. Real people with real experiences. I encourage you to support them and subscribe. You can get a digital version for only $1.89/month. Not to mention they have risen to stardom from the great work of my pal Shelley Sargent. I am excited to see them all at Shot Show in a couple of weeks. Here is the article!

National Jr Long Range Rifle Champion Camp Perry 2011-Brianna Rachinski of Wa St.

Current name and logo of WA St Junior High Power Shooters. Designed by junior Gabrielle Pitre.

 Whistler Boy Team Camp Perry 2009 – Jennifer Nyberg and Michael Storer of WA St.  Australia Palma World Cup Under 25 Team Winners –6 members of the team from WA and NW – Brianna Rachinski, Michael Storer, Kelly Bachand, Trevor Massey, Jennifer Nyberg and Abe Kamerman.  Camp Perry 2012 Sierra Bullet Trophy High Junior –  Natasha Pitre of WA St.  WA ST Palma Champion 2012 – Michael Storer of WA St. What is the common factor in these? All of these kids are from WA St. This is only a short list of the many talented junior, competitive high power shooters in the St of WA.  All are part of the WA St Junior Program. A program so successful, coaches from other states and countries have asked for their secret. The success of The WA St Junior High Power program lies with three important criteria. First of course are the individual talents of the kids. Second is the tireless support and dedication of a community of coaches and parents. All of whom are volunteers. Thirdly, there is the backing of local organizations such as the WSRPA and Cascade Rifle Club that bring it all together.

The Washington State Rifle and Pistol Association is an integral part of the junior shooter program. They support small bore, pistol, high power and long range (Palma) junior shooters. For the kids shooting High Power and Palma they loan rifles, shooting jackets, slings, magazines, spotting scopes, mats and carts each season. The WSRPA helps offset travel expenses and pays for match fees. Ammunition is the only portion the kids need to provide for themselves most of the time. This year they even got a break from that when the NDIA (National Defense Industrial Association) and defense contractor ATK donated 20,000 rounds of ball .223. Sierra also helps offset the high cost of components with a substantial discount on bullets. The WSRPA gets their funding from annual membership dues, successful grant writing and donations. Cascade Shooting Facility provides storage for all of the junior’s equipment as well as a beautiful outdoor 600 yard shooting range and an indoor small bore facility to practice during the wet NW winter months. Now don’t think the kids in this junior program have taken the easy road on all of this great charity. They contribute quite a bit as well to make this work.

As we all know, if you compete you need to travel. The junior team spends many weekends at local matches in WA but some of the nations bigger events are held all over the country. AZ, Raton, CA and the big daddy of all competitions is Camp Perry in Ohio. Camp Perry hosts the CMP and NRA High Power Championship as well as the NRA Long Range Matches. With travel days included, the kids with a few dedicated parents and coaches spent almost 4 weeks at Perry this August. Several Wa juniors that are members of the Under 25 US Palma Team had to get to AU last year for The World Cup. Who pays for this?  The kids do. Well, sort of. I spoke with Jerry Bentler, head coach for the junior high power team and he said the kids and their families are very creative and hardworking in fundraising.  “ The Fern d’aliens” said Jerry, “ a group of juniors from the North part of WA, held several firearms raffles this past year for a fund raiser.  Parents held a BBQ in the pits on Father’s day at Cascade Rifle Range. The food was donated by a Cascade member that works for one of the commercial food provisioners as his contribution to range work.  We have also sold some of the brass collected at the NDIA event.  Cascade collects most of the brass from LE training and either sells it for reloading, or scrap (depending on the condition of the brass and market prices) with proceeds going to the Junior program.  The proceeds from New Shooter Clinics put on by Valentine Burkhauser goes towards the junior program as well.  Val also makes all of our Rattle Battle ammo, for both practice and for Camp Perry.” For the National Under 25 Team the kids from WA and other states raise money similarly through raffles and donations. With all of this, I wanted to know where do these kids come from and how do they find out about the shooting sports and this junior program in the first place?

Recruiting kids to participate comes from a variety of places. “Word of mouth is the best and many seem to just find us.” says Jerry. The kids involved get to brag about shooting AR15s and .308 bolt action rifles. Heck I would have checked it out as a kid if someone had told me about it. Many have transferred over from small bore. The high power clinics that Cascade puts on can grab a few and last weekend my husband and I volunteered to coach and introduce high power to the Kent district USMC JROTC kids and their families. This was the first time this event was held and we hope to make it an annual thing. There were about 19 young ones ranging in ages from about 13 to 17. I hope we will see some of their faces again soon.  It is a positive environment at the range and matches when a group of juniors are about. The time these kids spend together at practices, matches and raising money makes for a strong bond between them.

The juniors that live north of Seattle have a two hour drive together to make it to the Cascade range for practices and matches. The juniors from the south end make a two hour drive north to the Custer range for events. In the summer months the kids have a weekly practice and compete up to three weekends a month. Not to mention the out of state matches. I personally have seen the great relationship these kids have together. They work hard and play hard. There seems to be a higher level of maturity about them. Perhaps it is the structure.  Or maybe it is playing in an adult world with adult responsibilities. Don’t get me wrong. These are teens we are talking about. Their “play hard” sometimes needs to be reigned in. But they don’t get in to any bad trouble. It is more of a “Hey go to bed! Do you realize it is 3am and you have a match tomorrow?” kind of trouble.  Speaking of disciplinarians, this is the perfect time to talk about the heart and sole of this whole junior program operation. May I introduce the Parents, Coaches and Volunteers?

If you think about it, there is so much involved in making this program work. Time, gear and money are the obvious things. But even with all of the money in the world this would not work without the commitment of the parents, coaches and volunteers. There is a long list of these names that devote so much of themselves. Some are very generous with loaning top of the line rifles and gear as well as time. I realized how much dedication was involved when I went to Perry this year. About 8 juniors and half a dozen adults from WA made the 4 week trip. The adults all took turns doing shifts. Some drove the giant motor home that transported 5 kids and everyone’s gear (including even mine) from Wa St to Ohio. Other parents and coaches drove separately in trucks with more gear and kids. Because it was four weeks long the adults had to fly to and from Perry in shifts so they could go home and work as well. Not to mention the care in keeping the kids safe. There is also the carpooling of the 2 hour drives just to the local matches at home. I know Mom and Dad Pitre were super excited their oldest daughter Natasha got her driver’s license this year. Now they can sleep in as Natasha carpools the north end kids at 5:30am to the south end range. Perhaps now this gives the parents more time to load the junior’s ammo for them. See? It never stops. The kids, the volunteers and the organizations like the WSRPA of any state are what keep the sport of shooting and the industry in general alive.  This initial positive experience for these young men and women hopefully will make them long-term competitors, and advocates for and leaders in our sport.*

*Line taken from WSRPA web site.

30CalGal – “Shoot Like A Lady! If You Can…..”

2 Responses to “The Next Generation – WA ST Rifle & Pistol Association Junior Program”

  1. AM

    Got to shoot with Gabby yesterday in Indiana. Nice girl, outshot me by a fair amount but passed on some really good advice on dealing with the wind. When she mentioned coming from WA we started talking about ranges we’d shot and people we knew. She even sold me 5 raffle tickets for to benefit the Palma team. Whatever you are doing with those kids, keep it up.

    • 30calgal

      How great! Thanks for letting me know. Gabby and Natasha and their parents are awesome. My best to them if you see them again.

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