May 29, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. — There are two types of rifles that 4-H youth can compete with in the 2013 Shooting Sports Invitational, air rifle and small bore rifle.
An air rifle, considered the next step up from a BB gun, uses compressed air or other gasses to fire metallic projectiles, which are commonly waited diablo pellets. A small bore rifle is typically a .22 caliber rifle used for hunting small animals such as rabbits or squirrels.
Small bore rifle shooters shoot at animal silhouette targets at various distances. Small metallic chickens are placed at 40 meters, metal pigs are placed at 60 meters, metallic turkeys at 77 meters, and metal rams at 100 meters. In order for a shot to be considered a hit, the metallic animal must be knocked off its frame.
Dave Haumont is the chief range officer for small bore rifle shooting at the event, held June 23-28 at the Heartland Public Shooting Park and Heartland Events Center in Grand Island. He said that to be a good small bore rifle shooter takes effort and responsibility.
"It is kind of like learning to play the piano. The more effort you put into it, the more rewards you are going to see for how you shoot," Haumont said. "Obviously to be a safe shooter you have to be a very responsible shooter. It is interesting to me that most of your very good shooters are also honor students."
For Haumont, safety is a top priority.
"My job is to make sure everyone shoots by the rules," Haumont said. "I am the chief range officer and if anything goes wrong it comes down to me."
Haumont said that he expects about 100 4-H youth to attend the small bore rifle event.
Unlike small bore rifle shooters, air rifle shooters shoot at only paper targets.
This year, the air rifle shooters will be using a new computer system that can keep track of their scores up to a tenth of a point. The computer uses sound waves to detect how close the pellet came to the center of the paper target through the use of four microphones.
"It is the latest and greatest out there," said Mike Jochum of Beatrice, the chief range officer for the air rifle event. "What's really neat about it is that each shooter will have their own monitor screen."
In addition to each shooter having his or her own monitor screen, there is a large plasma screen that shows the scores of all the shooters as the event is progressing.
"The coach and spectators can see how each individual shooter is doing," Jochum said. "We are just back there in the bleacher system just cheering them on."
Jochum said that air rifles have advantages to them.
"It doesn't make a loud bang, it doesn't scare anybody," Jochum said. "You can shoot pellet rifle, indoors, year round. You don't have to fight the bugs or the heat."
He also said that air rifles are more economical. A person can buy 500 rounds for a mere $8.
The counterpart of air rifle, air pistol, is slowly declining in popularity because of its high cost, Jochum said. Nebraska will not be sending an air pistol team to the invitational this year.
Because each 4-H member can only compete one time in each discipline area, Nebraska is waiting until its current air pistol students, who are 14 and 15 years old, get older so that they will be at their peak performance when they do compete.Steve Pritchard
Assistant Extension Educator
Sandi Alswager Karsten
IANR News Service