Smallbore 3-Position Rifle Champ sets sights on Olympics and World Championships
Joseph Hall, flanked by Jason Parker (l) and Joseph Hein (r), hoists a Benelli Super Nova Shotgun in the air while being crowned as NRA's 2013 Smallbore 3-Position Rifle Champion
Port Clinton, Ohio - You've heard the start of this story before — mom didn't like guns. But with four boys running around and a father who didn't see the harm, she knew her days were numbered. Instead of battening down the hatches, she went another direction.
"Mom came up with the idea of sending us to a weekend long NRA Hunter Safety Course," said Spc. Joseph Hall of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. "That's when we discovered if we do it safe then it's even more fun. After we joined the junior shoot team ... there was no stopping us."
The rest of the field here at NRA's National Rifle & Pistol Championships couldn't stop him either as Joseph Hall walked away with the 2013 Smallbore 3-Position Rifle title. Tallying a total of 2383-171x (x standing for bullseyes), Hall finished three points ahead of his U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit teammate Jason Parker. It is Hall's first Championship at the NRA Nationals.
You could say it's become a family affair.
Building, a feeding, a family full of shooters
Sitting in the national spotlight isn't anything new for the Hall boys. The older brother, James, is semi-retired from competitive shooting while serving as the Program Outreach Manager at the Civilian Marksmanship Program's range down in Anniston, Alabama. The younger brother, Jonathan, shot for Team USA in the 2012 London Olympic Games. A position Joseph was gunning for too.
"I spent the past few years concentrating on USA Shooting," he explained. "I was on that one like crazy. Trying to see if I could make the Olympic team and World Cups. Just to catch the MQS (Minimum Qualification Scores - shooters must earn a predetermined amount of points in approved tournaments to qualify for certain events) and whatever qualifications it took to get to the Olympic Games.
"I didn't get there, but I was pretty close."
Close enough that he'll be looking for another shot in 2016?
"There's no looking. I will be there.
"My parents already got to go to the Olympics so there's a little bit of gamesmanship involved with my brother. But as I like to say — brother beat me last time, I'll beat my brother next time."
Long range rifles and long range plans
Ending Day One at the NRA Smallbore 3-Position Rifle Championships in a tie for the lead (up by 13Xs), all Hall had to do was keep on target. Read the heat, wait for the wind, and fire. Lessons learned years ago during his days down in Florida.
"I started shooting with a 4-H team when I was twelve. When I was ready to move from BB guns to Sporter, we moved to Florida and joined the Central Florida Rifle & Pistol Club. We've been shooting ever since. I just stuck with it.
Joseph Hall stands with the Frank Parsons Trophy, the top overall prize, at the NRA Smallbore 3-P Awards Ceremony
"Soon as I found out I could get a college scholarship and possibly make it a job I was hooked. Then, when I found out I could go the Olympics — I was definitely stuck."
But his desire to shoot goes beyond the smallbore realm. With NRA's hosting of the World Long Range High Power Championships at Camp Perry in 2015, there's a little long range in the late night dreams.
"I'd love to (shoot in the 2015 Long Range World Championships). Pretty much anything they'll put in my hands, I want to shoot it. Once, they let me shoot the 6BR, I was absolutely hooked. Bigger bang, longer distance, more wind, I loved it. Every second of it. I would love to do the Long Range stuff … the more the merrier.
Finding a place for shooting and for mom
Mrs. Hall has experienced quite the 180 in her views on guns. After her boys completed their NRA Safety Courses all those years ago, she decided there was no one better suited to look after her offspring. She had to get involved.
"Mom wound up becoming the coach of the Junior Club where we started. Coached there for about as long as I can remember. She waited until we were done with high school and college, and with Jonathan going to the Olympic Games, she decided to pass the torch.
"Along time ago she grew to understand that these tools aren't dangerous as long as you teach people how to use them properly. She's all for it now."
Especially after she's seen what true, safe, responsible marksmanship has done for her boys. An Olympian, a manager of the National Air Gun Championships range, and an NRA title holder. A lesson not lost to Joseph.
"There is no limit to where this sport can take you. I've seen more places then most people have read about. This sport has taken me every where I've wanted to go and beyond. College scholarships, my job (with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit), and now this.
"I will never be able to give back as much as they sport has given me."
Spc. Joseph Hall walks out a target at the NRA Smallbore 3-Position Rifle Championships near Port Clinton, Ohio.
For more on NRA's Competitive Shooting Programs, visit their website at compete.nra.org