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07-24-2007, 16:10
Nice article about a girl I coach.

07-24-2007, 17:23
Here is the article...Taking aim successfully
Beth Willett is just like any other 16 year old -- except for weekends when she travels the East Coast to compete in air rifle matches, armed with her unique good luck charm.
Mark Taylor

Like millions of kids her age, Beth Willett of Annandale dove into "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" this weekend.

By early afternoon she was about 100 pages in when she had to take a break.

There was an air rifle match to win.

The break didn't last more than a couple of hours as 16-year-old Beth blazed her way through the three-discipline match at the PSS Range in Roanoke with a score of 583 out of 600 for an easy win.

Her thoughts?

"I did OK," said the rising junior at W.T. Woodson High School, one of two teenaged girls in the 10-shooter field. "There are some things I need to work on."

Beth's mother, Nancy Willett, conceded that her daughter sets high standards for herself.

"When they get to this level, these kids worry about a point or two," Nancy Willett said.

Hard work has made Beth not only one of Virginia's top junior air rifle and smallbore rifle shooters, but a competitor who can hold her own against the best young shooters in the nation.

Earlier this year at the NRA Junior International Air Rifle indoor championships she was seventh among 310 shooters in the Intermediate Junior Category.

"She's exceptionally gifted," said her father, Anthony Willett, a senior speechwriter at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Willett recalled the time his daughter and her club team, the Arlington Optimists Acorns Junior Air Rifle Team, traveled to Lexington to scrimmage in a match featuring the teams from VMI, Ohio State and North Carolina State.

"I couldn't go so I asked her how it went," he recalled. "She said, 'They were teasing me and calling me "little girl" for a while.' I said, 'When did it stop?' She said, 'When I won.' "

Actually, she didn't win because the club team was not officially competing. She just outshot everyone.

Beth brings some of the teasing on herself with a good luck charm that's always with her on the shooting line -- a small stuffed animal named Monkey.

"I just started bringing him along when I first started," she said, laughing.

Hey, if it works, why stop?

Monkey had a good view Sunday as Beth put on a clinic.

The competitors got 20 shots each in prone, standing and kneeling positions at a distance of 10 meters -- or roughly 33 feet.

The Sporter category was for shooters with modest gear, such as guns with limited adustability. Shooters such as Beth, with more adjustable guns, competed in the Precision category.

To score a perfect 10, the pellet had to hit a pinpoint-sized dot. The 9-ring was smaller than a pencil eraser.

Beth shot a 197 prone, a 190 kneeling, and an incredible 196 in the standing category.

The total, just one point shy of her personal best, gave her a nine-point win over 16-year-old William Teller of Mattaponi.

"She's not going to have to pay for school," said Chris Moore, who runs the 4-H Youth Shooting program at the range and helped coordinate the Coventry Commonwealth Games air rifle events.

The idea that she may have a shot at earning a college scholarship wasn't even on her mind when Beth started shooting competitively as a fifth grader.

At first, she was drawn to the sport because her older brother and best friend were involved.

"But it got really fun," she said. "The traveling is a lot of fun, too."

Her family spends many weekends at shooting matches in the Eastern U.S. In August, Beth and her dad will travel to Colorado for a national match.

"There's a lot of time devoted to travel and matches," Anthony Willett said.

The gear can be expensive, too. Beth's gun, a German-made Anschutz 9003, cost about $2,500. Her heavy canvas and leather shooting jacket and pants were another $500. Then there are special boots, stands, a spotting scope, gun cases, mats and other accessories.

Less expensive options are available, however. Good entry-level match guns, suitable for Sporter division competition, cost less than $300.

A number of Sunday's shooters wore street clothes while shooting, and one shot from an inexpensive exercise mat.

Many youth programs and teams, including Moore's, provide loaner guns for kids who are just starting out.

Competitor Dan Pempel, who coaches youth teams in his home of Cumberland, said he thinks competitive shooting is great for kids.

"I find that when I get them to concentrate on something they like, their scores go up in schoolwork, too," said Pempel, who said he hopes to bring some of his young shooters to the air rifle competition at next year's Commonwealth Games.

After packing up her gear, Beth wasn't really thinking about next year. She was looking forward to stopping at Starbucks on the way out of town.

And then four hours of Harry Potter.That is fantastic, sir!!

07-24-2007, 20:16
I do need to clarify,

I am one of the coaches with the program (her dad is also a coach). I'm not taking credit for all of Beth's hard work and accomplishments.

07-24-2007, 22:33
That's cool, I graduated from Woodson in 2002, didn't have a shooting program when I was there. Where do yall practice and how much flak does admin give yall?

07-25-2007, 06:36
I'm a coach with the Acorns team. (and hopefully will be starting a rifle team at my daughters high school this year)

The Woodson team was started 2 years ago.

There is a Potomac High School Rifle League (covers NoVa, DC, and MD) that was down to 4 clubs shooting small bore, they are slowly switching over to air rifle and the number of clubs is climbing. (IIRC we have 10, maybe 11 schools this year shooting air and 6 shooting small bore).

The Woodson team really started because 5 members of the Arlington Optimist Acorns JRC went to school there and decided to start the team. Their first year in existence they beat the Robinson team. Robinson had been winning the high school league for the last 20 years.

The kids practice small bore at the NRA range and air rifle at the Izaak Walton League in Centreville.

As for the amount of flack from the admins at the schools, it's not too bad. Robinson and a couple other schools have had rifle programs for many years. The county activities directory used to be the athletic director at Robinson so he's familiar with the program. Rifle shooting is a state athletic association approved activity, it's a county approved activity, so the school officials really can't complain too much. They don't throw any support or money into the program, it's a "Club" sport so the shooters have to provide everything themselves.

The one big hassle with the schools is that they won't let us shoot the air rifles in the school because the pellets are lead. We've tested some of the non-lead pellets and they just don't have the accuracy of the lead ones.