A great tradition at the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships
Columbus, Georgia - Think you can toss a kneeling roll into a trash bin from 20 feet away? How about bouncing a couple ping pong balls into a cup? Identify the correct member of the Shooting Hall of Fame? Or shoot a target the size of a golf ball from 20 feet?
What if you did all of these in a row... while being timed... competing against dozens of others.
This is precisely what the students attending this year's NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships went through last week before getting serious on the firing line.
It's called the Fun Shoot and it's an annual tradition at the event. A way to relax, blow off some steam, have fun and, of course, compete for fun prizes.
Organized on Fort Benning by the United States Army Marksmanship Unit, hosts of the championships, the Fun Shoot was completely voluntary - but who would want to miss it?
MC'd by Staff Sergeant George Norton and a couple of his USAMU cohorts, the obstacle course was made to be quick and hectic.
On top of it all, competitors were asked to make teams of two, selecting a partner they had never met before.
At the start of the course, one member of the team would attempt to throw a kneeling roll into a trash bin from varying distances. From 10 feet out, five seconds were added to your time if you missed. At 15 feet, you lost five seconds for making it and gained five seconds for missing. Finally, at 20 feet, you lost five seconds for making it - there was no penalty for a miss.
For the second stage, each member of the team needed to bounce two ping pong balls into two different cups.
On the third stage, a Army Marksmanship Unit soldier had three photographs of Shooting Hall of Fame members in front of him. After stating a fact about one of the member's careers, teams had to point to the correct Hall of Famer. Get it right? You lost five seconds. Get it wrong? Five seconds are added.
The final stage required the team member who didn't toss the kneeling roll to grab an air rifle and shoot at one of three targets from 20 feet away. The first was about the size of a softball. Making it would get you no time deducted, but a miss would add five seconds.
The second target was roughly the size of a baseball and would add or deduct five seconds whether you respectively missed or plinked it.
The final target, the size of a golf ball, would award a team minus ten seconds for a successful shot while a miss would bring no penalty.
Teams had a blast as they went through while the USAMU guys jeered at them and tried to break their concentration. It was all in good fun, of course, and there wasn't a single student who didn't enjoy it.
Winners and prizes were announced once every team had run the gauntlet. The grand prize? $50 iTunes gift cards for each member of the team with the shortest time; second, $25 iTunes gift cards; third; foam dart guns; fourth, a basket of candy; and fifth, giant chocolate rabbits.
It was a great precursor to the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships, where competitors still had fun, but buckled down and got serious for the trophies. But for that afternoon it was all about the fun.