By Kyle Jillson | September 24 2012 11:47

Florida teenager is the top youth at this year's NRA/Springfield M1A Match

James Kinley III was this year's High Junior at the NRA/Springfield M1A match at Camp Perry

Port Clinton, Ohio - Six years ago the NRA/Springfield M1A match was started at our National Rifle and Pistol Championships to breathe fresh life into a storied competition rifle and that's exactly what it's done.

Despite the rising popularity of AR-style rifles in competition, the M1A Match has done very well for itself and picks up new shooters each year.

Most importantly, the match is drawing in young shooters like James Kinley III, who shot his way to the High Junior award this past August with a 439-2x out of a possible 500.

Kinley, who is 14 and lives in Parrish, Florida, not only picked up shooting four years ago, but began with the M1A. His choice of firearm was of course helped by his father, who has been a Garand collector since the 1990s and attending Camp Perry since the turn of the century.

Once James caught the shooting bug, he joined his father at the National Matches and has shot in the M1A Match the past two years.

So how's he done? This year's score is over 60 points better than 2011's - a 439-2x compared to a 374-7x. It sounds like someone's been practicing...

"Over the last few months I've been working on reading mirage and wind in different lighting conditions so I can call corrections," James said.

M1A's aren't the only thing James shoots, though. He recently bought a British .303 Lee-Enfield and has branched out into ARs, where he's currently working to get distinguished.

James was even planning to shoot his AR at Camp Perry this year, but had an unfortunate malfunction that he wasn't able to fix in time for the matches.

On the morning of the M1A match a bad thunderstorm rolled through, as Camp Perry is wont to do, and a lengthy delay was called.

"It was pouring for about an hour and a half, but I did not want to give up," James said. "I'd had a long week and I was really tired, but I told myself I was going to get through this and try to make High Junior. I was going to put all my effort into this."

After the storm passed the match started back up and James was determined to finish it.

"The weather got really nice after it stopped raining. It was perfect shooting conditions," James continued. "And once we got back out on that range I kept shooting towards my goal."

So how does it feel to not only make such an improvement over last year, but to take High Junior?

"It feels really really good," James said. "I love the M1A."

You can expect to see James at Camp Perry for years to come, zeroing in on that overall championship.

"I'll be there every year I can," James finished. "I think it's the best place on earth."

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