The three-day event which commenced on Friday, Nov. 10, sponsored by the Army National Guard, was comprised of teams that had their sights set on scoring titles in several categories, GHSA Precision Air Rifle, Open Precision Air Rifle and Open Sporter Air Rifle with individual titles in GHSA Precision Air Rifle, Open Sporter Air Rifle, Open Air Pistol, Open Supported Air Pistol and Supported Air Pistol.
“This was the best and largest event we have ever hosted.” said head coach Maurice England. “We plan to refine the match and possibly add another discipline to attract more shooters from Georgia and the surrounding states.”
England explained: “We have the best set of shooters this season making it difficult to determined what shooters would shoot on which of the five Ware County teams. We decided to let the shooters determine their own position by combining each shooter’s individual scores during a Monday and Thursday night practice,” said England.
The strategy paid off as the Gators, 2017 Georgia State Champions, dominated the GHSA Precision Air Rifle securing first, second and third place in both team and individual classes.
Members of Ware County Team 1 were Ashton Newland (585 points), Ben Smith (582), Bryce Young (577), Laci Jewell (580) and Tyler Hanson (579) who won first place with a team score of 2,326.
Dalton Vining (562), Martin Brock (556), Rayne Riggins (578), Taylor Overly (554) and Tori Mosely (567) made up Ware County Team 2 claiming second place with a score of 2,239.
Ware County Team 3, Anna May (542), Faith Tanner (563), Jay Dukes (551) and Sandra Fals (541) rounded the match by securing third place with a score of 2,197.
In the individual GHSA Precision Air Rifle, Laci Jewell shot a combined match and finals score of (822) which enabled her to claim both first place in the individual GHSA Precision Air Rifle and High Score Overall.
“Laci’s name and score will be added to a trophy that is housed at the high school shooting range to be named among the previous years’ top shooters of the Gator Invitational,” said Coach England.
Ben Smith secured second place individually with a combined score of (821), and Tyler Hanson placed third with a score of (798).
“Our shooters did real good, I’m proud of each and every one of them,” said England.
Two teams from Cherokee County JROTC claimed both first and second place in the Open Precision class by shooting a 2,195 and 1,861 respectively.
Open Class Sporter Air Rifle was won by the Appling County 4-H team with a first place score of 1,995. Mosley JROTC closed the door on second place with a score of 1,911 and Coffee County 4-H took home third place with a team total of 1,785.
The overall high score in Open Class Sporter was claimed by Ally Atkinson (681.5) of Appling County 4-H, the second place winner was Joshua Cumbie (680.4), Mosely JROTC, and third was Ethan Carter (663.8), of Appling County 4-H.
In the Open Air Pistol, Jacob Turner (349) of Tift County 4-H won first place, Caleb Barwisk (328) of Tift County 4-H placed second and Johnna Dales (322) of Tift County 4-H was third.
Open Supported was claimed by Turner County 4-H member Will Watson whereas first place Supported Air Pistol was won by Ike Hobby (381), of Turner County 4-H, with Mason Purvis (251) of Turner 4-H second and Sam Hobby (205) of Turner 4-H third.
The course of fire for both precision and sporter classes was shot in three positions (prone, standing and kneeling) with 20 shots in each position totaling a maximum individual score of 600 points. Team scores were determined by the highest four scores out of five team members for a maximum total of 2,400 points.
Individual awards were determined by a final relay shot by the top eight shooters in a series of elimination shots. Their finals’ score was then added to their match score for an overall championship score.
Open and Open Supported Air Pistol was shot in the standing position and Supported Air Pistol was shot in the sitting position. All Air Pistol classes shot 40 shots for a 400 point possible individual score.
“I’d like to thank Richard Edmondson, our representative from Megalink targeting system, my wife, Louise England (team statistician), Coaches Duane Caswell and David Hanson, along with all parents who volunteered their time to make this three day event as successful as it was,” said England. “Also a special thanks to the Army National Guard for their continued generous sponsorship and to Stoner’s Pizza for supplying the wonderful meals.”
The Ware County Shooting Complex is located at 950 New Mexico Avenue. Spectators are encouraged to visit and support the rifle team during practices and competitions. Practices are held Monday through Thursday starting at 4 p.m.
The team along with their scores can also be viewed online at www.warecountyrifle.com, select the “Our Range” tab where user controlled live feed cameras may be viewed along with real-time targets courtesy of Megalink.
Also follow the team on Facebook at www.facebook/waregatorrifleteam.com where upcoming matches and events are posted.
Business and individual sponsorship are always welcome. Contact England for details.
Dave Hanson is one of the rifle team’s community coaches.