For many young competitors, breaking into the sport of international pistol shooting can be a challenge. Holding a pistol one-handed for extended lengths of time can be taxing on the young muscles and ligaments of a junior shooter and the focus and skills needed to succeed require time to develop. That's why NRA, along with USA Shooting, has developed the Junior Progressive Position Air Pistol Program, as a segue for young shooters into the world of international pistol shooting.
"The program helps juniors get into competitive pistol shooting at an earlier age because it allows for the development of skills such as aiming and focus while also allowing them to build the necessary upperbody strength through the progressive positions and support," said NRA Air Gun Coordinator Jessica McClain.
As the name of the program implies, the competitors move through a series of positions throughout their training, helping them to simultaneously build their strength while developing advanced marksmanship skills. Beginnging with a seated benchrest position, young shooters are able to work on basic marksmanship techniques such as aim, breathing, and trigger squeeze while having the weight of the gun supported. From there, they can advance to using a "t-stand", or a supportive device that allows them to shoot from either the seated or standing position. The t-stand provides support to the shooters, allowing them to hold the majority of the pistol's weight with their own body.
Finally, competitors can transition into the regular standing position once they feel that their strength is sufficient to hold the pistol, allowing them to focus on their marksmanship skills and winning mindset. In addition to the skills and strength developed by the program, McClain adds that it helps bring more people to the sport.
"It provides young people with a way to get involved in pistol shooting at their own pace. There are built-in benchmarks and goals allowing their to see their success which helps keep them interested in the sport. It also allows for children to begin shooting air pistols at an earlier age," said McClain, adding that the typical entry age for the program is seven.
Each year, USA Shooting and the NRA put on the National Junior Progressive Position Air Pistol Championship, with the next scheduled for July 6-8, 2012 at the CMP South Marksmanship Center in Anniston, Alabama. To learn more about the Junior Progressive Position Air Pistol Program, take a look at the online brochure, or contact McClain at firstname.lastname@example.org.