After the conclusion of the 2020 USPSA Nationals, the folks at Infinity Firearms came to me about the possibility of hosting a junior camp at the company factory and range in Gordon, Texas. During my visit at the facility this past January, team member Joe Rutkowski, Brandon Strayer and Sandy Strayer went over their plans for camp. I was more than happy to present this to the USPSA board at the in-person meeting in February, who unanimously agreed to help support the camp.
The main players for getting the camp running were Infinity Team members Joe Rutkowski, Gianna Giordano, Mel Rodero and Shannon Giordano, as well as MyVan Hamrick from Infinity. From organizing the hotels and food, getting the registration lined up from the kids, providing information to the parents and arranging for sponsors, these folks knocked it out of the park for the junior shooters that attended.
The Infinity team also worked with sponsors to help the kids, especially with ammunition needs. Eley and Super Vel came with ammo for the kids, since ammunition was in high demand. Everything was in place for the July camp.
As for the training program was going to somewhat follow the Infinity Experience camp; however, this was going to be geared for the juniors. But before they hit the range, the kids and their parents all met up at the hotel to check in, grab some of the swag that had been provided by the sponsors and have dinner together. Some of the kids knew each other, but for many, this was the first meeting. Much like at a school dance, the girls immediately radiated towards each other while the boys huddled up together. It was a good opportunity for parents to meet as well.
Students gathered tomeet at the large classroom training building at the Infinity range. They would sort their gear out, make sure they got their supplied ammunition and were introduced to Brandon Strayer and the team of trainers who would be working with them for the weekend. Brandon gave a short introduction and some of his history in shooting, as well as the camps he attended while growing up and why it was so important to him to be able to provide this opportunity. On top of Mel, Gianna and Joe, Infinity Firearms team members Andrew Hyder, Lesgar Murdock, Caleb Smith and Andrian Hernandez were also there to help.
For the first part of the morning, the juniors did assessment drills so the instructors could gauge how to break up them up into groups. As they worked through the draw and fire drills, they were also shaking off their jitters. Once the initial drills were done, they were split up into three groups and headed to their bays to start working in smaller groups with their instructors.
Starting with breaking down their draw, grip and drills with a hands-on approach from each of the Team Infinity trainers, they got to work. Students would build on each of the skills as they went to work on target focus and sight focus, and started to include movement as the day progressed. With the small group approach, each of the juniors was able to work one on one with the trainers assigned to them. They would top off mags and work on movement once off the line and another kid took their place for instruction.
As they became more familiar with each other, they began cheering one another on and working together off the line on movement. A break for lunch was the only time the kids were off the range. Other than that, Saturday was spent training. In a few hours, you could see the progress each of the students had made. The kids' experience ran the full gamut: From their first time shooting, to others who had competed at Nationals—but each taking away something from the training sessions. Not only were they learning, but they were making friends along the way as well.
Saturday was a long day on the range with lots of progress and improvement that would be put to the test in the match that was held on Sunday. First thing Sunday, however, was a tour of the Infinity Factory and a little education on how Infinity Firearms are built. After the tour, the kids were split into two squads and hit the range to shoot the stages that had been set up by the Infinity Team.
The kids were having a lot of fun pushing themselves through the stages and rooting each other on during the match. You could see where they were incorporating the new skills, and would try not to let old habits creep back. The trainers shot with them, worked with them on stage breakdowns and coaching them along the way during the match. Things were clicking, and the kids were having a blast.
At the conclusion of the match was the shoot-off. There was falling steel setup and the kids would have to start back to back and run to their unloaded firearm at the sound of the buzzer. At their designated barrel, they would load and start taking the steel down, but had to do a required reload before shooting the last piece of steel. The kids were really enjoying going head to head against each and so were the Infinity Team members who were trying to bump each other off as well. There is nothing like trying to blaze through falling steel, trying to not be distracted by your competition’s steel falling and getting your own hits. Round after round, the kids tried their best to advance as the shootoff was putting their skills to test. After the last popper fell, Konnor Fryburger won the shootoff against Sasha Danjczek in the final round. It was fun to watch the kids getting excited over the shoot-off and everything they learned over the two days.
A heartfelt thank you to Sandy Strayer, Brandon and Tiffany Strayer, MyVan Hamrick and the staff at Infinity Firearms for stepping up to put on this event. Also, thank you to the Infinity Firearms Team, lead by Joe Rutkowski and Mel Rodero, for organizing everything for the group.
Article from the September/October 2021 issue of USPSA’s magazine.
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