Annual report for Junior Shooting Sports

By Jared Sturgill

Editor’s note: This is the annual report from the chairman.

• The 2022-23 season began with a new shooter orientation in October. This is a great opportunity for juniors who may have heard about the sport of rifle through the Game Fair or maybe just word of mouth. They come to learn about the sport and try shooting air rifles to see if they would like to pursue it further. If so, they are invited to join the club and start weekly practices with the team. This season we picked up 3 new competitors, a boy and two girls.

• Competition didn’t begin for the juniors until December with the Minnesota Air Gun Championship (MAG). This match is an “open” match allowing adults and juniors to compete together. It is also open to air pistol competitors. Overall, all high competitors earn a Minnesota State Champion Title from the Minnesota Rifle & Revolver Association (MRRA).

• Later in December, a couple of junior athletes traveled to the USA Shooting’s Winter Air Gun Championship match at Camp Perry, Ohio. This is another open event allowing the juniors to compete alongside the nation’s best, including Olympic athletes.

• The U.S. Army National qualifier match was held at St. Thomas Academy. This season was the first time the Minnesota Centershots did not qualify for the National Championship in eight seasons. Missing out by just a few points finishing 28th — the top 25 teams earning the invite. So close for the group of young juniors!

• January saw us return to the Forest Lake Post 225 for the NRA Indoor Junior Air Rifle Sectional Match. It was nice to see our friends at that post back in operation since being shut down from COVID and the loss of their head coach.

• January also brought in two matches from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The CMP postal was held in lieu of practice and only for our club. The other match was the CMP State Championship. Both matches serve as a qualification match to attend the CMP Regional match at Camp Perry. This year one of our younger juniors auto-qualified and got to travel to a national event for her first time. She had so much fun while there that she cannot wait to go back again! Which makes the practices more purposeful.

• The American Legion Round I postal match was held to determine who will get the second-round set of targets. Of the 220 competitors, only 62 earned that 2nd round set of targets. Of those, three were from Anoka.

• From the American Legion Round 2 postal match, only the top 15 earn an invite to attend an all-expenses paid trip to the National Championship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. From Anoka, Megan Jaros, finished seventh overall earning her ticket to compete! Congrats, Megan!!

•   This is the fourth consecutive season that Anoka has sent a junior to Nationals. (Tanner Barth, Allison Buesseler and Gavin Barnick were the previous three).

• In February, the USA Shooting Junior Olympic Qualification matches were held. This season FIVE juniors from Anoka earned their invites to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Three girls and two boys competed alongside 340 other juniors from all 50 states. This match tests the junior’s endurance and stress as they compete in higher elevations and in front of many NCAA coaches scouting for talent looking for their next recruits.

• As March approaches, the local air rifle match scene is slowing down and concludes with the CMP State JO Match. This match serves as a qualifier for the CMP Nationals Championship at Camp Perry in July. Once again, the Minnesota Centershots have earned that invite. Now marking the seventh consecutive year to attend the national championship. For many high school graduating seniors, this is their last match. The CMP has many scholarships available for the top scoring graduating seniors.

• To better align with the end of the airgun season, when the athletes are in top-notch performance, the Minnesota Airgun Championship Match was moved from December to April and will now continue in April going forward. This is the open match to include adults and juniors and open to both air pistol and air rifle. Both with a Minnesota state champion title on the line. This past April, the match grew and even had student athletes from the NDSU marksmanship team travel to compete at Anoka. I hope this trend continues and will eventually become one of the larger air gun match events in the Midwest.

• Once again, it is with pride that we can congratulate another junior being recruited to an NCAA rifle team. This fall, Tanner Barth will be a member of the University of Memphis Tigers! With this signee, the Minnesota Centershots has had 15 athletes attend Division I NCAA rifle teams since 2008!

• Of special note, Eric Zahua, a graduating senior from the St. Thomas Academy rifle team, has earned his appointment and will be attending West Point this fall. Congrats, Eric!

• Now as the weather improves, the juniors will be moving outdoors to compete in the second of this sports discipline: smallbore. Smallbore is a competitive .22 caliber target rifle at a distance of 50 meters. The juniors will learn about weather conditions including wind, rain and, of course, mosquitoes!

• The Minnesota Centershots will co-host a CMP smallbore camp this June at the Minneapolis Rifle Club.


Jared Sturgill


Junior Shooting Sports