Shooting sports have looked different since the onset of COVID, which included Daisy Outdoor cancelling the National BB Gun Championships—normally held in Rogers, Ark.—two years in a row. Faced with another year of kids losing the opportunity to compete on a national stage, a group of coaches from South Dakota, Georgia and Texas became the administrators of the National Competitive Youth BB gun group and organized a competition. Called the Rushmore National BB Gun Invitational, the match was held July 1-3 at Fort Pierre, S.D.
Rushmore BB Gun Invitational competitors gathered for a group photo.
After the realization that some kids had aged out the previous season and missed their final year due to the pandemic, the event staff opted to host a special match for those older kids who wanted to shoot one last time. This portion of the event was named the Out To Pasture (OTP) match and open to anyone who aged out.
The match attracted more than 200 shooters from nine states—from Pennsylvania to Texas and Georgia to Oregon. Although not an official national championship, many of the best teams and finest youth shooters in the country attended, including a record-setting team from Walton, Ga., an undefeated team from Marshall County, S.D., and perennial powerhouse Pierre Junior Shooters. By the start of the match, there was a sense of victory for everyone that we were finally able to gather—not just as competitors—but as a shooting sports family.
At the heart of the Daisy Program is the rules and safety test. The 50-question, 100-point test comprises a portion of the aggregate score and is the first stage of the match. Teams take pride in the safety component of their programs, and that fact stood out with competitors answering safety questions correctly over 95 percent of the time. The event presented a high team test award which went to Marshall County, S.D., who scored a perfect 500 on the test. Outstanding achievement awards were presented to athletes who garnered perfect test scores.
These shooters garnered perfect scores on their safety test.
Highlighting the prone match was the perfect target shot by Anna Bressler of Penns Valley, Pa. That target earned her the right to attempt a national record in the prone position. The current record is a perfect target plus an additional 19 shots in the 10-ring. Unfortunately, the attempt came up short but made for a memorable moment for coach and athlete. The remainder of the top 10 were within two points of Anna and were led by Addison Heinje of Roberts County 4-H in South Dakota. Heinje’s trip to the podium marked a first for Roberts County in a national BB gun match. Prone scores were incredibly high for the match, with nearly half the athletes posting at least a 95.
Anna Bressler, Penns Valley, 100-8X
Addison Heinje, Roberts County 4-H, 99-8X
Naya Talarico, Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, 99-8X
Hazel Russell, Montana Yellowstone County 4-H, 98-8X
Lucky Myers, Montgomery County 4-H Shooting Sports, 98-8X
Clay Crawford, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 98-8X
Anna Coleman, Dead Eye Shooters, 98-7X
In the OTP event, Daisy Teague of Walton County won the position with Skyler Ruth of Pierre and Allison Merritt of the Southern 7 team taking second and third places.
The standing match went to Ireland Templeton of the Pierre Junior Shooters. Her score of 98-4X is impressive on its own, but more so was the path taken to get it. One of the most important life lessons taught in competitive shooting is how to move on from a bad shot. Templeton suffered a gun malfunction in the prone position that resulted in a shot falling to the 2-ring. She came to the event with the realistic expectation that she would have a shot at the podium, but dropping a two in prone created a big hole to dig out of. After a brief pep talk, Templeton shook it off and went to work, winning the position and keeping her team’s hopes of a title alive. A great memory for this young woman’s final BB gun match, as Templeton will age out of the sport after this season.
Ireland Templeton, Pierre Junior Shooters, 98-4X
Madison Baines ,Walton County 4-H, 96-4X
Mason Dunlap, Penns Valley, 95-5X
Mason Stoeser, Pierre Junior Shooters,95-4X
Sydney Harper, Walton County 4-H, 95-4X
Sterling Powers, Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, 95-4X
Clay Crawford, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 95-2X
Brookelynn Mallett, Lake County Aces, 94-4X
Michaela Hampl, Walton County 4-H, 94-4X
Julia Winstrom, Dead Eye Shooters, 94-4X
In the OTP event, Daisy Teague of Walton County won the position, with Montana Marlow of Marshall County and Carter Halvorson of the Oregon Timberbeasts taking second and third.
The highlight of the sitting match was Jayden Bender of Marshall County, S.D., shooting a perfect score. Similar to Anna Bressler, this earned her the right to attempt a national record in the sitting position. The current record is a 100 with nine additional shots in the 10-ring. Unfortunately, Bender’s effort fell short, but also provided a chance for her, along with her coach and dad, to take one last trip to the firing line. As a 15-year-old, this was Bender’s final match.
Jayden Bender, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 100-8X
Emmy Serock, Montana Yellowstone County 4-H, 99-7X
Brookelynn Mallett, Lake County Aces, 99-7X
Josiah Hays, Pierre Junior Shooters, 99-6X
Paytyn Marlow,Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 98-8X
Leah Lecarno, Oregon Timber Beasts, 98-7X
Paige Sporrer, Pierre Junior Shooters, 98-6X
Brayden Bartley, Penns Valley, 98-6X
Evan Lubick, Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, 98-5X
Skyler Plucker, Humboldt Sharpshooters, 98-4X
As for the OTP event, Skyler Ruth of Pierre, S.D., won the position, with Daisy Teague of Walton County and Carter Halvorson of the Oregon Timberbeasts taking second and third.
Kneeling was the final position of the match. Clay Crawford of Marshall County, S.D., was on a roll and put the final punctuation mark on his career by winning the position and ultimately securing the top spot on the podium for aggregate score. In third place was Erika Symens, who suffered the same challenges in prone as Ireland Templeton. A malfunctioning gun resulted in a single point on bull 4, which greatly reduced her chances at taking the podium as an individual.
Clay Crawford, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 98-8X
Ethan Bates, Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, 98-7X
Erika Symens, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 98-6X
Bethany Shirley, Walton County 4-H, 97-5X
Samuel Sterling, Pierre Junior Shooters, 97-3X
Brookelynn Mallett, Lake County Aces, 97-2X
Lucky Myers, Montgomery County 4-H Shooting Sports, 96-6X
Cheyenne Braaten, Roberts County 4-H, 96-6X
Caden Carter, The Southern 7, 96-5X
Maura Sharer, Penns Valley, 96-4X
In the OTP event, Jasmine Hays of Pierre was the position winner, while Daisy Teague of Walton County and Quinten VanDyke of the Oregon Timberbeasts took second and third places.
The top 10 shooters in the individual aggregate.
The aggregate went to Clay Crawford of Marshall County, S.D. Having already been to the podium for the test and every position except sitting (he missed it by a single point), he capped his BB gun career by taking the 2021 Rushmore Invitational Match with a final score of 488-23X. In second place was Evan Lubick of Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, Mont., with a score of 481-16X and Jayden Bender took third with 480-23X.
Clay Crawford, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 488-23X
Evan Lubick, Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, 481-16X
Jayden Bender, Marshall County 4-H Sharpshooters, 480-23X
Brookelynn Mallett, Lake County Aces, 480-15X
Josiah Hays, Pierre Junior Shooters, 480-15X
Sterling Powers, Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters, 479-17X
Maura Sharer, Penns Valley, 478-19X
Skyler Plucker, Humboldt Sharpshooters, 478-16X
Sydney Harper, Walton County 4-H, 478-12X
Caden Carter, The Southern 7, 477-18X
In the OTP event, Daisy Teague of Walton County won the match with 489-20X. In second and third were teammates from the Pierre Junior Shooters, Skyler Ruth and Jasmine Hays.
After the match, Teague recapped her experience.
“This last BB match was an amazing bonding experience with my team. I was able to come back from the cancelled season and win it all. Coming out to South Dakota for this last match was amazing and a great experience overall.”
2021 Rushmore Invitational top three teams.
Starting the match in first place with a perfect team test score of 500, Marshall County, S.D., never relinquished the lead, winning the match with a score of 2388-92X. Slipping into second place with 2388-72X were the Pierre Junior Shooters of Pierre, S.D. Rounding out the top three was Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters Gold of Bozeman, Mont., with 2377-77X.
Mashall County Team 1, Britton, S.D., 2388-92X
Pierre 1, Pierre, S.D., 2380-72X
Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters Gold, Bozeman, Mont., 2377-77X
Walton County 4-H, Walton, Ga, 2367-64X
Penns Valley Team 1, Spring Mills, Pa., 2362-80X
Humboldt Sharpshooters, Humboldt, S.D., 2357-75X
Aces, Madison, S.D., 2350-68X
The Southern 7, Blackshear, Ga, 2342-69X
406 Marauders, Billings, Mont., 2313-69X
Montgomery County 4-H Shooting Sports, Montgomery, Tex., 2306-67X
Shooting Sports Family
Shortly before the Rushmore National BB Gun Invitational, the match organizers reached out to the Lake County Aces in Madison, S.D., with an idea to raise funds for one of their competitors who was battling leukemia. Clay Misar was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May 2020 and has spent the past year battling through rounds of treatment, kidney dialysis, and the removal of a portion of his right lung. Earlier this spring, Clay’s little brother became his bone marrow donor and Clay was able to finally come home in June to continue his journey of healing. Throughout the competition, there were donation baskets available and 50/50 Fun Shoot opportunities for attendees to participate in. By the end of the competition, over $1,000 was raised for Clay and his family.
Coach Kelly Hanson feels she can speak for the entire Lake County Aces organization and the Misar family:
“We are blown away by the love and generosity shown to the Misar family. You’ll often hear us talk about how shooting sports is a big family, and this just goes to show how true that is.”
After it was all over, many of those in attendance came to the realization that this was much more than a match. It was a great opportunity for these young kids to get a seat on the national stage, as well as a great way to get to know young shooters from across the country. It was also an ideal way for the parents and coaches to meet people from other teams and come together as one big BB gun family. For those who organized the match, it was different than the annual Daisy match because it was a coming together of people across the nation to pull something together for these kids.
The organic nature of how the match came to be shows how strong the love for this sport and these young shooters is. One of the organizers, Jennifer Harper, said:
“We had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people to put this together and we have built lifelong friendships in the process. The camaraderie at this match was unlike any other that I have been a part of and I am very thankful to have had this experience.”
To those shooters who will be moving on, we wish you the best of luck on your next adventure. To the shooters that will be returning to BB gun next year, we look forward to seeing you at the 2022 Daisy BB Gun Championship in Rogers, Ar.