“The little shooting team that could” has struck again.
In July, seven members of the Putnam County Gun Club Junior Smallbore Team took home 15 of the 18 junior-level awards available at the American Smallbore Shooting Association’s National Championships.
“We knew we’d done well, but we didn’t know how well until they announced that our one club would be taking home 85 percent of the awards,” said Bill Shank, the team’s head coach. “Really, though, it was just 83.3 percent.”
The team, founded 17 years ago, quickly grew into a junior-level juggernaut, with shooters on college rifle teams and shooters that earn medals in regional and national competitions.
“It’s been my life for the past 17 years,” Shank said, “and I’ve been living the dream for 15 of those years.”
At the ASSA Championships, held at the Cardinal Shooting Center in Marengo, Ohio, shooters took home awards in the 50-meter prone match, the Dewar Match, the 100-yard match, the 50-yard match and the three-position match.
Mitchell Nelson, who shoots on the University of Kentucky rifle squad, took home a basketful of first-place awards in the three-position (3P) discipline. He topped the field in the following categories: metallic-sight junior, the metallic-sight civilian, any-sight junior, any-sight civilian and overall civilian. He also took first place in the 3P competition for master-level shooters.
In the prone discipline, Nelson captured first-place honors in the overall junior, metallic-sight junior and any-sight junior categories.
Bryce Ward, who shoots for Morehead State, finished first in the marksman-sharpshooter class of the prone metallic-sight competition, the marksman-sharpshooter class in prone any-sight and the overall marksman in 3P. He also was the second-place overall civilian shooter in 3P.
Zach Jackson took top marksman-class honors in 3P metallic-sight and 3P any-sight competitions. His performance earned him first place in the 3P overall marksman competition.
Alex McCallister, another 3P shooter, took home first place in the sharpshooter any-sight class, and also was the top-scoring overall sharpshooter.
A pair of brothers, Owen and Grant Kimberling, also showed up well at the nationals. Owen took home three first-place awards in the intermediate-junior category: metallic-sight prone, any-sight prone and overall intermediate-junior.
Grant earned second-place awards in the any-sights intermediate-junior prone category, and also ranked as the second-place overall intermediate-junior prone shooter. He also took runner-up honors in the 3P any-sights civilian category.
The team’s lone female competitor, Savanna Lee, finished second in the 3P any-sights category.
In addition to the individual awards, the PCGC squad also took home team awards in several categories.
“I’m proud of every one of them,” Shank said. “It’s a great team. They’re all dedicated to becoming better shooters, and in this competition, they showed the world what the PCGC is all about.”