Justin Ziefel at the National Shooting Competition 2011

Justin Ziefel's experience at the National Invitational was bittersweet.

Justin Ziefel         7/5/11    

My National Shooting Sports Invitational Experience

In late June, members of the Frazier-Simplex were prepared and awaiting the trip to San Antonio, TX. Personally I was eager for the trip. I volunteered to make the driving trip down with our two leaders, Jim and Chuck. We left early on a Saturday morning. By noon that day, we had made it into northern Kentucky. We stopped for lunch then continued on our way. We continued driving until late in the night when we reached Texarkana, Arkansas. By that time, we knew that we had an easy drive the rest of the trip. The next morning, we were up and on the road again. We drove straight to San Antonio, and got to the hotel about an hour before the rest of the PA shooters. That following evening, was gun check in. We took our rifles to get checked in and get an idea of the facilities where the matches were going to be held. Sunday finished out smoothly, and we all were awaiting our first practice of the 2011 National Invitational Match. Bright and early Monday morning, everyone was up and eager to get going. We had been scheduled to shoot on the first and second practice relays. The practice began immediately following a coaches' meeting in the hall where the range was set up. Brandon Michner and I were the two shooters from PA that were on the first relay. Then came the second practice relay which had Emma Uchida and Brent Morgan from Pennsylvania as well. After practice, we sat down with Chuck, our coach and reviewed our scores and discussed what might help adjusting our position for the match. That evening, was the opening ceremony. It's quite a feeling when you first enter this room filled with a few thousand people and your name is announced as a representative of Pennsylvania. The ceremony was followed up with a large BBQ buffet dinner, which was excellent! After the ceremony, Emma, Brent, Chuck, Brent's mother Jody, and myself went to  Bass Pro Shops. It was quite an interesting place, especially with the large fish habitats in the store. The next morning was competition! The PA Air Rifle Team had to be present on the range for the 3rd and 4th relays. We arrived at the finish of Relay 1. This match was the all standing, or 40 shot offhand match. Everyone did their best, and our team came in with a 2nd place score. We were all pleased. On Wednesday, was the CMP 3p match. Once again we were up early and ready to go. This particular match was quite difficult for me, especially the kneeling position, due to an injury in both of my knees. But I persevered and finished the match with a score enough to put me in 11th place. The rest of the team did good and remained strong. Emma placed in the top 10 in that match! Finally our third day of competition came around and it was the silhouette course. The silhouettes were shot at outdoor distances of up to 45 yards! I was lucky enough to get to go on the first relay in this match. I shot the match, buy didn't do as good as I had been doing in practice. I ended up with a score of 18. Not too horrible considering the wind conditions in south Texas. Next up was Brent, he did a great job and finished with 19. Then after Brent shot, a coach from Florida came and protested him. The protest was completely uncalled for, and at one point had Brent ready to throw the towel in and quit. I couldn't believe how childish this other coach's behavior was. All our team members and even the Texas team went and gave Brent our support. Finally the outcome of the protest was that they wanted Brent to shoot the match over again. So he did, while the whole time being all emotionally stirred up and finished with a lesser score than before. I had really felt sorry for him. At the awards ceremony they announced in front of every one that they changed the placing of the CMP match and took our team from 3rd to 5th place, it was really embarrassing to go on stage and be given a lower place than what we had earned the day before. After that was out of the way we were called up for silhouettes, where I got 7th place. I was pretty excited over it! The next morning was final awards. I received the 9th place overall award and our team was 5th. All in all, my experience to the National Invitational was bittersweet.