Shooting team hopes sport wins MSHSAA recognition

The shooting team from Cole County R-5 School FFA Chapter has fared well in this year’s season. They compete at the district contest today in Linn Creek. Shooters are pictured here with equipment purchased with a National Rifle Association grant. The following are pictured: Dylan Morgan, Levi Koetting, Tyler Mormann, Josh Kempland, Lewis Kempker, Leslie Wrinkles, Nolan Wunderlich, Koby Limbach, Brittany Rader, Alex Buschjost, Jacob Rush, Mikinze Farris, Mikayla Farris, Brad Kempker, Jacob Hager and Loren Belshe.

The shooting team from Cole County R-5 School FFA Chapter has fared well in this year’s season. They compete at the district contest today in Linn Creek. Shooters are pictured here with equipment purchased with a National Rifle Association grant. The following are pictured: Dylan Morgan, Levi Koetting, Tyler Mormann, Josh Kempland, Lewis Kempker, Leslie Wrinkles, Nolan Wunderlich, Koby Limbach, Brittany Rader, Alex Buschjost, Jacob Rush, Mikinze Farris, Mikayla Farris, Brad Kempker, Jacob Hager and Loren Belshe.

EUGENE, Mo. — Competitive shooting teams are different from live-animal hunting and similar to other high school athletics.

The target bird comes out from a central house. Shooters take position at five stations in a half-moon around the house. They fire five shots at each position.

At a competition, they will repeat that process five times.

Between aiming the five-pound firearm and its recoil 100 times in an afternoon, shooters from Cole County R-5 Schools FFA Chapter agreed it is an athletically demanding competition.

Shooters’ reflexes and anticipation quicken, and they invest nearly six months to the team.

And they shoot in any weather, save lightning storms, Wrinkles said. Wind, rain, snow or extreme temperatures have an effect on a shooter’s calculations, said junior Koby Limbach.

Some shooters hope they can earn college scholarships through the sport, too.

Now, Eugene team sponsor Eddie Hager hopes shooting sports may join the list of competitions with a state championship hosted by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

Member schools will vote this month whether to amend bylaws, adding target shooting as an emerging activity under the association, said Jason West, communications director.

Other potential emerging activities on the ballot include bass fishing, bowling and chess.

If approved by a majority, it might be the 2016-17 school year before target shooting would become a full activity in the association, complete with a state championship, West said.

To reach full status, an approved emerging activity would need a minimum of 50 participating schools, which lie within at least three of the state’s eight district boundaries.

High school shooting sports have been around a long time. But the team at Cole County R-5 Schools organized only four years ago at the request of interested students, Hager said.

The Eugene team and events are part of the FFA program. Instructors may be certified through National Rifle Association, 4-H and Missouri Department of Conservation trainings, too. And they are part of the Missouri Youth Sports Shooting Association.

After safety, equipment is the next crucial step for the team.

Two grants have helped the Eugene team, providing a box trailer, two shot throwers, 25 vests and five shotguns.

Next, Hager said he would like to acquire a projector-based computer program for new shooters’ virtual practice.

Throughout the school year, the Eugene team has participated in Area 8 monthly contests. Nine shooters placed in the top 25 for the season.

Although the shooters are ranked at the end of each event, the greater competition often is with their own personal best, Limbach said.

“It’s exciting when you beat your personal best,” said Leslie Wrinkles.

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