Youth flock to Junior Marksmanship ProgramPosted: Tuesday, Mar 20th, 2012
These shooters, youth as young as age 6, were laying on their stomachs to shoot the air rifles.
Part of the West Virginia Junior Marksmanship Program, the beginning practice on Sunday, March 11 at the National Guard Armory was for the smallest shooters receiving training with air guns, according to coach Richard Whiting.
The youth were laying down for added stability, according to Whiting.
“Once they get to a certain skill, they can stand up,” he said.
The youth get to that skill level through practice, which begins in early spring and runs through the summer leading up to the national championships at Camp Perry, Ohio usually held in August.
As the weather warms, the practices will move to the outdoor range at Teter.
In the bigger matches, the participants shoot at 200, 300 and 600 yards, according to Whiting.
Although only feet away from the target practice, conversations were able to be carried on easily between parents and media members seeking interviews.
The reason is because they use air rifles, according to Whiting.
Outside, 22s and high-power runs will be used at the range.
There are no participant fees for young people to come and shoot.
“We provide all the stuff to the kids for nothing,” Whiting said. “All they have to do is show up and shoot.”
Through the National Rifle Association Foundation, the group got a $6,000 grant to purchase rifles and other needed equipment. But the group regularly fundraises so that participants will not have to pay.
Jaime Layman, fundraising chair, said the next upcoming fundraiser will be a puzzle piece affair. Each participant must collect $200 in donations, which buys one puzzle piece. The 24 piece puzzle will then be assembled.
Coach Mike Moore and Whiting hope the benefits of the program will pay off for them down the road.
Moore said the program teaches gun safety, self-confidence, team work, self-esteem and self-discipline.
While not a school-sponsored event in which a certain grade point average is required, the coaches have imposed their own criteria.
No one goes to the national competition with failing grades.
Several members have joined the military with better shooting skills.
But there are also scholarship opportunities for those who wish to further their education.
West Virginia University has a rifle team and there are other programs across the nation.
This is the third year for the program which Whiting and Moore began in 2010.
That first year, the program sent a six-person team to the national championship at Camp Perry, Ohio and hopes to repeat that this year.
There are six-member teams and two-member teams.
Whiting served in the 101st Airborne Division, while Moore was a Marine who was a reloader for the Marine Corps rifle team.
“I got an opportunity to train and shoot with them,” he said.
After being transferred to Japan, Moore trained 300 Marines in competition-style shooting.
The response to the Junior Marksmanship Program has been positive, according to Whiting.
“They walk out of here at 5 p.m. and want to shoot more,” Whiting said.
And that’s what keeps them coming back again and again.
To find out how to get involved, contact Moore at 304-613-2423 or Whiting at 304-472-1449 or visit www.wvjmp.com.