by Josh Hensley
Each summer, the Civilian Marksmanship Program sponsors a popular series of junior rifle camps and clinics to teach intermediate and advanced rifle marksmanship skills to junior shooters and their adult leaders.
Lt. Col. Dustin Elder, senior Army instructor for the Webb City High School JROTC, successfully applied to host a week-long camp June 19-23 at the high school’s new multipurpose range, which features the Athena electronic target systems.
The CMP jumped at the opportunity to utilize the new range and help establish a presence in the region. Twelve counselors, all either current or former NCAA rifle competitors or coaches, spent the week with those competitors lucky enough to be accepted to the camp.
“Wait lists are common” for the camps, according to camp coordinator Ryan Hinson.
The camp was attended by several Webb City and Joplin JROTC cadets who compete with the sporter class of air rifles. The camp also drew in precision class air rifle shooters locally and from other states in the Midwest.
The camp consisted of classroom lectures, live fire practice, one-on-one performance evaluation and coaching as well as small group counseling sessions. General topics included range safety, sportsmanship, and mastery of equipment.
But the heart of the curriculum focused on refining firing positions and learning advanced shot techniques. Several lectures also focused on mindfulness practice, mental concentration, and mental conditioning for match pressure – a key requirement for the sport. Adult leaders also received special lectures aimed to help teach and correct common issues young competitors face.
The counselors spent additional time to discuss their college experiences as NCAA Division 1 athletes, and answered students’ questions about college life in general. The counselors further educated the group about potential scholarships, opportunities to compete in other shooting sports, and paths to international and Olympic level shooting games.
The week ended with a CMP sanctioned Cup match in which the competitors had the opportunity to earn their first Excellence-In-Competition points. EIC points are required to earn a Junior Air Rifle Distinguished Badge. Distinguished Badges are the highest individual awards authorized by the U.S. government for excellence in marksmanship competition.