The U.S. Coast Guard Academy cruised their way to a NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Team Championship victory thanks to strong performances from Helen Oh, Brian Kim and Benajmin Waalkes. The trio were the top shooters in the individual aggregate and led the Bears to one of the most dominant performances in recent memory.
2019 Intercollegiate Pistol Champion Helen Oh was also the 2019 Spirit of the Sport award recipient.
The match was March 16-19 at Ft. Benning, GA, at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Pool Range Complex. Ft. Benning has now been the home of this NRA championship for 12 consecutive years.
Coast Guard finished the match with a team aggregate score of 6443. (Score breakdown is 2044 in free pistol, 2186 for standard pistol and 2213 for open air.) Last year's team champion Ohio State finished second with a score of 6358. In third was the U.S. Military Academy at West Point scoring 6238.
Additionally, there were several individual accolades for the Coast Guard pistol team. Helen Oh, a senior, was the individual aggregate winner, completing the match with a 1637 and repeating as champion. Coast Guard teammate and fellow senior Brian Kim followed closely behind Oh, taking the runner-up spot with a score of 1633. Last but not least, freshman Benjamin Waalkes finished in third place with a score of 1618, giving Coast Guard three shooters at the top of the individual aggregate leaderboard.
Brian Kim was strong during Free Pistol qualification with a score of 528, leading Coast Guard to first place in the Team Free Pistol aggregate. He had to settle for runner-up in the Individual Free Pistol final. Kim was seven points shy of the winner, Ohio State's Samuel Gens with 618.2.
Coast Guard's Brian Kim in the Free Pistol final.
Among her many accomplishments this year, Helen Oh finished third in the Free Pistol individual aggregate with a score of 610.7. In Standard Pistol, Oh was the top shooter with a final score of 553. Notably, one of her Standard Pistol strings was a near-perfect 99. Oh also took top honors in the Women's individual aggregate with a score of 1111. Finally, she won the Women's Air Pistol individual championship for the fourth straight year.
Electronic targets are used for all NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championship events. The ranges have large monitors for spectators to use to follow the action, as well as individual monitors set up at each firing point.
Benjamin Waalkes was at the top of the Open Air Pistol individual standings with a final score of 662.6. Going into the final his qualification score was the second highest in the field with 564. In a standout performance he came back from a 0.9 deficit after the ninth shot, subsequently firing a 10.6 to Ohio State pistol shooting powerhouse Anthony McCollum's 9. Waalkes' final score surpassed McCollum's score of 661.9 by a slim margin of .7 points.
A full match report will be published in a future edition of the digital magazine.