Emma Uchida at the National Shooting Competition 2011
In the 2011 4H National Shooting Sports Invitational, I participated in the air rifle discipline. Having participated in the smallbore rifle discipline in 2010, in Kerrville, Texas, I was familiar with how the competition process works. However the change in facilities was an improvement on the competition environment. The air rifle discipline includes three events: 40 shots standing, 60 shots three position, and the silhouette event.
The first of the three events was the 40 shot standing match. Being as we do not customarily shoot sporter air rifles at our club in Pennsylvania, this event was a particular challenge. The day prior to this event, we had a practice slot in which we could make sure our guns were sighted in and ready for the competition the next day. The practice went smoothly, with few equipment adjustments needed to be made. Such a practice made us feel prepared for the match. My team came in second place and I placed in tenth as an individual.
Filled with energy from our success the day before, my team and I were ready to shoot the 3-position event. Since the rifle we use is the same as our standing match rifle, our practice was brief. Another teammate and I were on the first relay of the day. We did well, and our 2 teammates after us also did well. However, it seemed that everyone had stepped up their game and the competition was fierce. We came in third overall, and were content with the placing. We had the practice for the silhouette event right after the match was over. We practiced using the wind flags and adjusting to the heat, as we were indoors for the other two events.
Before we knew it, we were on to our last event of this year. In Pennsylvania, we do not shoot silhouettes during the year. The only time we are exposed to an event on a regular basis is in the 4H Nationals. Having to had work on this event particularly hard, we were determined to go into the event with a winning attitude and put our best effort forth. However, we were faced by an unexpected obstacle. My teammate, Brent, had a protest made against the weights used on his gun. This protest was negated after the range officials decided it was legal. These protesting coaches wouldn’t hear of it; they changed their protest to one of his position. After many heated discussions and angry accusations made toward my teammate, the range officials decided to make him reshoot the entire match. After such an emotional distraction, it was very difficult for us to get our heads back into the game. The entire protest was illegal in itself for this reason: the shooters are supposed to make the protest, not the coaches. The coaches from these opposing states (Florida and Missouri in particular) showed unsportsmanlike conduct that is shocking to see at a 4H event. It was a shame that the competition was soured by such attitudes.
Placing 5th overall was an accomplishment that we were all proud of. Despite the obstacles, we were happy and were pleased with the shooting facilities as opposed to last year.