Local BB gun shooters aim for success at national championship

BUFFALO, ND — As one of the older members of the Buffalo Sharpshooters, Emily Haag knows exactly what to expect at the Daisy National BB Gun Championship match. Last year, she was there with a team from South Dakota.
“You get a lot more nervous because it’s a lot bigger competition than you’re used to,” Haag said.
But this year, she’s prepared for the trip back and hoping her experience rubs off on a few friends.
She’ll be one of 10 shooters representing the Buffalo-based BB gun shooting club at the annual competition in Rogers, Ark., and the is only one who’s made the trip before. Competition starts tomorrow and wraps up Tuesday.
It’s the first time in several years that the team has made the trip, coach Dan Geurts said.
The club, which is sponsored by the Buffalo Wildlife Club, is comprised of shooters from all over southeastern North Dakota and includes participants from citities including Casselton, Tower City, West Fargo, and, of course, Buffalo.
The club had its final practice locally Tuesday at the Buffalo Community Center and gave the 10 members another chance to brush up on their shooting skills before the big stage.
For the competition, the 10 members will be broken into a team of five main shooters with two alternates. The shooters will get 40 shots — 10 each from the standing, prone, kneeling and sitting positions — to score the most points from five meters out. Each position is worth 100 points towards a personal and team total.
Additionally, there’s a 50 question test on gun safety and marksmanship that the team has to complete as well. The test is also worth 100 points, which adds a wrinkle to figuring out a lineup, Geurts said.
“It’s not just how well they shoot, it’s how well they do on the test,” he said. “That’s 100 points. The teams that win down at nationals, those kids literally ace the test. The low score will probably be a 96.
Geurts, who was still figuring out his lineup Tuesday, said part of the process is balancing test scores and shooting abilities. He used the example of choosing between a shooter who is accurate but may only score in the 70s on a test or a less accurate shooter who tests in the 90s.
“That’s a 20 point spread, so is the (high accuracy) kid going to outshoot the other by 20 points? You have to figure that out,” he said. “It’s real difficult.”
It’s a problem that could affect the Sharpshooters, who have a few experienced shooters, but tend to be on the younger side of the 8-15 age range.
That said, the team’s eight and nine year olds won multiple team competitions and the rest of the shooters consistently placed top-10 Geurts said.
“I’m confident we’ve done an awful lot of improving since then,” he said,
At the final practice, the shooters were anxiously awaiting the trip south.
“I’m kind of anxious to see what it’s going to be like,” said 10-year-old Tyler Zaun.
Connor Drogen, also 10, admitted he was a bit nervous.
“You’re going against all the older kids and it’s like my first time,” he said.
Mari Butler, a 13-year-old who is no stranger to high level shooting competitions, said the team also gets to see some sights during breaks.
Though Drogen was nervous, he said he wants to make the most of the experience.
“I’m going to enjoy it down there,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to just go down there and shoot.”