CMP Club News: Maryland Junior Coach Norris Diefenderfer Retires After Nearly 50 Years
August 25, 2021Civilian Marksmanship Program▸State Director▸Maryland▸CMP Club News: Maryland Junior Coach Norris Diefenderfer Retires After Nearly 50 Years
Info Submitted by George Kuhne, Everett Junior Rifle Club
A long-time legendary coach with the Antietam Junior Rifle Club from Hagerstown, Maryland, is retiring after nearly 50 years coaching junior athletes.
Norris Diefenderfer, 85, came to the sport of rifle indirectly in May of 1973 when the leader of the Washington County, Maryland, 4-H rifle club became ill and was unable to find a replacement. Norris stepped in to fill the role – learning on the job and even going as far as to attend a shooting sports coaching clinic at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. Over the years, he was also lucky enough to have had various valuable assistant coaches who helped him run the club, gaining experience from one another along the way.
Initially, the 4-H rifle club only met through the summer months, with their season culminating at the annual 4-H rifle match. As time passed, Norris became interested in getting his juniors involved in additional matches. He acquired the ability to use the nearby Chambersburg Rod and Gun Club range in Pennsylvania and held weekly practices, alternating between smallbore and air rifle. Once a month, the young athletes would shoot a college-format match consisting of a course of fire of 60-shot 3P (three position) smallbore along with 60-shot standing air rifle.
During the summer months Norris moved his practices to the North American Rod and Gun Club in Hagerstown, Maryland, for outdoor shooting at 50 yards – maintaining a personal philosophy that shooting outdoors helped make for better indoor results. Norris brought his first group of juniors to the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1982, which created a tradition that has continued since.
Upon his retirement from employment in 1996, Norris renamed the club the Antietam Junior Rifle Club. His junior athletes began traveling to several matches outside of their club like the state Junior Olympic Rifle Competition (JORC), the National Rifle Association (NRA) sectionals, the Palmyra Invitational and some open collegiate matches. Norris held week-long summer camps at the North American Rod and Gun Club, instructing shooters and coaches in the training of young athletes. The Antietam Club also began hosting the Maryland JORC and NRA Sectional matches at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
This summer at the 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry, after 48 years of coaching, Norris decided to retire. He leaves a legacy of dedication to hundreds of young athletes, including 77 who have gone on to receive Division 1 college shooting scholarships. These scholarships total in the millions of dollars and have made education possible for a number of individuals who may not have attended college without them – a point of which Norris is particularly proud. Several of his athletes have also gone on to All-American honors at the collegiate level.
His teaching methods have been passed down to many other coaches whose children have come through his program. He stresses shooting positions that are fundamentally sound and safe for the juniors, avoiding the all-too-often occurring back and spine issues that can occur from poor training. His sense of humor and warm, encouraging demeanor with his athletes will be greatly missed. Thank you, Norris, for bestowing your incredible knowledge to future generations and allowing excellence to continue within the sport.
Find out more on the Antietam Junior Rifle Club at https://www.youthshootingsa.com/product/antietam-junior-rifle-club/.
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