Columbus, Georgia - The Fun Shoot is an annual event at the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships. After the day's more serious shooting has wrapped up, competitors get the chance to run through an obstacle course of sorts that encompasses shooting and a little something extra.
Last year's fun shoot at The Citadel was joined by NRA Board Member and retired NFL player Dave Butz. Participants were running a lap around the range, inflating and popping balloons and shooting at various targets.
This year's experience was no different — only this year's group was even larger as pistol shooters now had the opportunity to take part.
Put on with help from the United States Army Marksmanship Unit, the timed course had five stages and required teams of three.
Competition began as the USAMU asked rifle trivia questions. The next stage found teams searching for a live round of .22 mixed into a cup of spent casings. After finding their "needle in a haystack," teams advanced to a lineup of shooting hall of fame plaques and were asked to correctly identify one of the shooters by a USAMU member (the nameplates were, of course, covered).
The fourth stage of the Fun Shoot was when competitors finally put guns in their hands. Each team member was required to shoot an air rifle at a balloon about 15 feet away, or as one USAMU member described "two feet."
The final stage was, in my opinion, relatively easy, but gave many shooters a lot of trouble. An inflated balloon was resting on a table and competitors were told to inflate a new balloon to the same size. The problems came when competitors tried tying off the balloon.
Maybe it was nervousness, maybe the balloons were of poor quality, maybe competitors had never been asked to help inflate an entire bag of balloons for a birthday party. Regardless, a lot of shooters had trouble and a few teams might have finished higher up if they weren't hung up at this stage.
In the end, everyone had a lot of fun, even the USAMU, who threw in their own chides from time to time in attempts to distract teams.
And what sort of competition would the Fun Shoot be if there were no prizes? The third place team members got to choose among a giant chocolate bunny, a nerf gun and a remote control car. Each of the second place members received $25 iTunes gift cards and first place also received $25 iTunes gift cards plus some extra spending money.
I can only hope that the world is in a better place tonight knowing a few people left the range this afternoon with a better understanding of how important it is to properly tie off a balloon.