Star Scout Skyler Ruth of Troop 27 in Pierre, S.D., credits Scouting and competing on a BB gun shooting team to keeping him focused and disciplined in all aspects of his life. He can now credit both for helping him become a national champion.
Skyler, teammate and Eagle Scout Griffin Gates and fellow members of the Pierre Junior Shooters won the overall team title at the 54th Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match, held in Rogers, Ark., from July 3-6. Sixty-four teams, each with five members and two alternates, from around the country vied for gold, silver and bronze medals.
Several teams included Scouts, like Lawson Looper, a Scout from Troop 4056 in Canton, Ga., who shot with his team, the Cherokee County 4-H BB Team. During one of his shoots from the prone position, he impressively scored a 96 out of 100, including six bulls-eyes. Still, that wasn’t enough to place in the top three in that category. The competition here is tough.
“It’s pretty difficult because the gun is so light; it’s pretty easy to fatigue with it and flinch,” Lawson says. “You mainly have to be steady and make sure you’re in the right position and doing the right things and techniques.”
Teams train starting in the fall, often once a week, in preparation for state contests. The best of the best receive invitations to Daisy’s national competition.
Shooters, ages 8 through 15, order Daisy’s Model 499B Champion, billed as the most accurate BB gun in the world. But before they even touch it to start practicing, they must complete nearly 10 hours of instructional training. Safety is imperative, so shooters learn safety rules and how to properly handle the gun. Prior to the national shoot, competitors must complete a 50-question safety test, which counts for 20 percent of their overall score.
After a fun-filled opening ceremony, which featured teams dressed in costumes, a decorative team shirt contest and a painted gun contest, the teams approached the range for two days of shooting.
Each team member fired from four positions: prone, sitting, kneeling and standing. The consensus was that standing and kneeling are pretty difficult, especially when trying to hit 10 different targets in 10 minutes from five meters away. You have to remain calm, positive and disciplined.
Austin Kontisses, a Scout with Troop 358 in Buffalo, Minn., was nervous when he took his first shot — it scored as a 7 out of 10.
“It was an OK shot; I forgot about that and moved on,” Austin says. “All my other shots were 9s and 10s.”
Austin had his coaches, teammates, parents and younger brother Jacob cheering him on. But the support didn’t stop within one’s inner circles. The sportsmanship at the national championship was just as high-level as the marksmanship.
“If one person gets upset, there’s a lot of people who will help you,” says Jace Weaver, Arrow of Light Scout from Pack 280 in Washington Wilkes, Ga.
Benefits in both
Many Scouts cited the positive benefits of being in Scouting and on a shooting team — they have learned how to be more outgoing, more assertive, more confident and more cordial.
“In Scouts and on a Daisy shooting team, you need teamwork,” says Mason Barrick, a Star Scout from Troop 97 in Middletown, Pa. “They both better me as a person because they teach teamwork and cooperation.”
Being part of a shooting team also allows them to pursue that passion for shooting. In Scouting, Cub Scouts handle BB guns, and Scouts BSA members get to shoot rifles and shotguns while Venturers and Sea Scouts can fire pistols and large-bore firearms. Oftentimes, the opportunities to shoot are limited to summer camp. Shooting teams go to the range more often.
Still, both pursuits afford chances to make friends and try something new.
“You’re challenging yourself; you’re having fun and you make new friends,” says Connor Thomas, a Life Scout from Troop 409 in Washington, Mo. “It’s really great.”
Daisy, the official BB gun of the Boy Scouts of America, is offering a 30 percent discount off of retail prices on any of its products sold online to anyone associated with Scouts. This includes all Scouts and their families as well as BSA employees.
When placing your online order, please be sure to use the code BSA302019 to receive the 30 percent discount. The offer expires September 1, 2019.