Port Clinton, Ohio -
Here at the 2011 NRA National Junior Air Gun Championship, the young competitors have been having a blast socializing and making new friends. But one group in particular has been getting quite a lot of attention and warm welcomes.
19 competitors and three coaches have traveled to Camp Perry all the way from South Africa and they’re already bonding with their new American friends.
“It’s been very interesting,” said 18 year-old Barto Pienaar. “We like to ask each other questions and we speak Afrikaans to them which they like.”
When NRAblog sat down with the group, it was easy to see how excited they are to be here and how eager they are to teach us about their country and culture. The bulk of the South African competitors come from the Guadeng area of the country, while some come from the Cape area. But as they were quick to explain, 12 different teams from different provinces are represented among their group, with all of the competitors on school teams.
Pienarr and his teammate, 18 year-old Jason Brookstein explained that they typically compete at club-level competitions every week and in provincial matches every two weeks. Competitive shooting is very popular in South Africa according to Brookstein, with smallbore rifle shooting being one of the largest disciplines among competitive shooters.
Although this is the first time all of the South African competitors have been to the United States, they have competed internationally before.
“Some of us have competed in England and others have been to Germany before,” said Pienaar.
But how do they feel about competing in America?
“It’s so cool!” exclaimed Brookstein. “The range here is fantastic! We’ve never seen one like it.”
So far our new friends from across the pond are faring very well in the competition, but stay tuned for final results tonight to see how they finish!