For 768 junior-aged athletes who have chosen Shooting as their Olympic Sport, April’s National Junior Olympic Shooting Championship (NJOSC) will reveal a glimpse into USA Shooting’s future. The 17-day spectacle of youth shooting begins April 9 with Men’s Rifle, which leads into Women’s Rifle April 15 and concludes with the Junior Pistol program beginning April 21. All competitions give athletes the opportunity to train and compete at the USA Shooting indoor ranges on location at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. These athletes qualified for an invitation to the NJOSC with top scores in their respective State Junior Olympic Championships. The competitors range in age from 12 to 20 years old, and are classified according to age as J1 (ages 18-20), J2 (ages 15-17) or J3 (ages 14 and younger).
If their state results, NCAA performances and elite match experience are any indication, the future will indeed be bright and the showcase will be intensely competitive. But the benefits of NJOSC participation extend far beyond high scores, medals, expectation and opportunity. NJOSC is an event unto itself in which the real value is intrinsic. More often than not, it’s the highlight of one’s shooting career with lifelong friendships formed and an appreciation for the sport and competition that is life-altering.
This year’s participants hail from 48 different states and were whittled down from 2,435 total competitors at our state level. The Lone Star state of Texas gets the distinction with 51 competitors set to participate, followed by California (48), Georgia (44), Pennsylvania (42) and Colorado (37).
Men’s Rifle will get things underway beginning April 9 with some top junior talent that’s already making names for themselves at the highest levels of USA Shooting. NCAA competitors and National Junior Team members like Will Anti (West Virginia University/Colorado Springs, Colorado), Michael Steinel (Ohio State University/Lowell, Ohio), Drew Cheezum (Ohio State University/Centerville, Maryland), Luke Johnson (Army/Marysville, Pennsylvania), Brandon Spencer (Air Force Academy/Kingsport, Tennessee) will all be forces to watch. Anti is the reigning Junior Olympic champion in Air. Steinel was the junior silver medalist at 2015 Nationals in Air. Cheezum was runner-up to Anti at the 2015 NJOSC and finished in third among juniors in Three-Position at 2015 Nationals. Johnson is the Three-Position Junior National Champion while Spencer is the Prone Junior National Champion.
There’s also plenty of high school expertise with athletes shooting marks well beyond their years including Ian Foos (Bellevue, Ohio), Jacob Buchanan (Spring, Texas) and Will Shaner (Silt, Colorado). Foos is reigning National Junior Champion in Air Rifle while Buchanan won two Junior Olympic titles a year ago in Prone and Three-Position. Shaner was the junior silver medalist in Prone at Nationals last summer.
The top-two athletes in each event earn a spot on USA Shooting’s National Junior Team for 2016.
2016 NJOSC Schedule
April 9-10 – Men’s Air Rifle
April 11-13 – Men’s Three-Position & Prone Rifle
April 16-17 – Women’s Three-Position Rifle
April 18-19 – Women’s Air Rifle
April 22 – Men’s Sport Pistol
April 23 – Women’s Sport Pistol
April 24-25 – Men’s & Women’s Air Pistol
Click here beginning Saturday for Live target scoring throughout the 2016 NJOSC.