By Kyle Jillson | March 14 2013 08:47

Army's Deppe captures second individual championship, locks overall women's individual title

Cadet Heather Deppe of West Point at the NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship
West Point's Heather Deppe secures Overall Women's title at NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships

Columbus, Georgia - Competitors returned to the United States Army Marksmanship Unit's 25 meter range yesterday afternoon to take care of some unfinished business. With three of the five NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championship titles already decided, it was time address Women's Sport Pistol — the last of the two women's titles.

Except for the course of fire, Women's Sport Pistol is similar to the Standard Pistol Championship shot earlier in the day.

Competitors are still required to take a total of 60 shots. Where this competition differs from Standard is the manner of shooting. Instead of three 20-shot rapid fire relays, they are asked to shoot one 30-shot precision relay and one 30-shot rapid fire relay.

Competitors at the 2013 NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship at Fort Benning
Competitors receive encouragement between relays at the 2013 Women's Sports Pistol Championship.

In the Precision Course, the 30 shots are broken down into six series of five shots. Here, competitors have a liberal five minutes per series to make carefully aimed shots.

The Rapid Fire Course is also six series of five shots ... but it's a little more hectic then that.

Each target is fitted with a system of red and green lights. Just like an every day traffic light, red means stop and green means go. During each series, the light turns from red to green for exactly three seconds. That's when you shoot.

Competitors have a seven second "rest" period between each green light.

MIT shooter Jackie Wu at the NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship
MIT shooter Jackie Wu taking aim during NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship in Georgia

Now maybe you think the pace is too slow. You feel like getting ahead. Why not squeeze off another round or two during that three second green? You can't. Only one shot is allowed per appearance.

Unlike the Standard Pistol Championship, however, Women's Sport Pistol had a final to determine the individual winner. There, the top eight competitors shoot two rapid fire series of five.

The equipment - sport (or standard) pistols in .22 LR with open sights, a five round capacity minimum and grip restrictions - remains the same.

A sport pistol at the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships at Fort Benning
Sport pistol sitting at rest during NRA Intercollegiate Pistol match at Fort Benning

Beaten by West Point in both Women's Air Pistol and Standard Pistol, a United States Naval Academy win would accomplish two things for the Midshipmen: secure the Women's Team Aggregate title and stay in the running for Team Aggregate.

Seizing their chance to redeem a second place Women's Air Pistol finish, the Academy women captured gold with a 1640 out of 1800.

Going into the match, the Women's team title was still up for grabs. Navy was down one point to the cadets from West Point. As the final series of shots rang out, the Naval Academy pulled ahead for a seven point win.

Cadet Chelsea Marsh from The Citadel at the NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship
Cadet Chelsea Marsh from The Citadel hears from her coach at the NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship.

Victory secured, Navy extends their Women's Team Championship streak to four - six all-time.

But the action didn't stop there. There was still the matter of the Individual Aggregate Championship to decided. The top eight shooters were called to the line to settle the match along with the aggregate.

West Point's Heather Deppe, winner of Tuesday's Women's Air Pistol Championship, led the finalists as well as the charge for the overall title. It was about to get interesting.

Shooter at the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships at Fort Benning

Apparently Army and Navy's nail-biting end to Tuesday's Women's Air Pistol wasn't close enough. That match ended with a 7.4 difference between first and second place. For the Sport Pistol title, the margin would be even slimmer.

Facing off against Nebraska-Lincoln's Courtney Anthony once more, Deppe narrowly edged out the Cornhusker in the rapid fire relays by two tenths of a point. 658.9 to 658.7. But a win is a win no matter how close.

After sweeping the two women's championships and capturing the Women's Air Pistol title for the first time, the soon-to-be West Point grad added another feather to her cap and a second Women's Individual Aggregate belt.

Competitors at the 2013 NRA Women's Sport Pistol Championship at Fort Benning

"Holy cow! I couldn't ask for better, Deppe exclaimed. "I'm on top of the world right now.

"I let my shot process down the beginning and my timing was a little off. I wasn't focusing on what I'd been practicing and I got a little jittery, a little shaky. I almost didn't get the last shot off," she laughed. "My heart was racing but the few minutes in between strings brought me back to square one and let me focus on what I needed to do. It made all the difference."

With the Women's Team Aggregate title now settled, only one match at the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships remains - Open Air Pistol. It's going on right now and will determine this year's overall champion.

Who will come out on top? Army? Navy? Maybe MIT? We'll let you know as soon as we do.

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