New Target Sprint Event Brings Excitement and Fun to Air Rifle Competitions
December 8, 2014Civilian Marksmanship Program▸The First Shot▸New Target Sprint Event Brings Excitement and Fun to Air Rifle Competitions
By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
ANNISTON, AL – This year’s Dixie Double featured an exciting addition to its lineup that brought a new, thrilling energy to the match. The Target Sprint became an exciting challenge for competitors – testing not only their ability to shoot, but also their ability hit their targets through escalated pulses, heavy breathing and laughter. A large crowd of spectators also brought roars of inspiration and fun to the event’s premier in Anniston.
Created by the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF), the sprint challenges participants to run a 400-meter course before firing upon a box with five biathlon-style knockdown targets – each 31 mm in size – from the standing position. Once the participant has hit all five targets, he or she must complete the 400-meter run again before returning to fire upon the targets a final time. The event concludes with one final sprint around the course. The competitor with the lowest time is considered the overall winner.
During its inaugural run, the Target Sprint attracted 45 total competitors, as well as a large audience. Since the sprint is an introductory event, anyone – both competitors and spectators – was welcome to sign up. Though it may sound like an intimidating course to complete, light-hearted smiles and encouraging cheers were contagious, from the competitors to the crowd, as each participant crossed the finish line.
“I think it went really well,” said Sommer Wood, CMP’s program coordinator who headed the sprint. “It’s one of those things that once you get a couple of people out here to try it, then everybody wants to sign up. Once they try a few shots, they get hooked. It’s something that’s going to get even more popular the more we run it.”
Curious competitors of all types stepped up to the line to try the event, including junior Katelyn Abeln, 13, of Douglasville, GA. Since Katelyn is a pistol shooter, her first challenge was figuring out how to actually use the rifle. But with some help from those around her,she was off and “running.”
With a rumble of applause from the crowd, Katelyn finished the course in just under 10 minutes. Though completely worn out, the grin on her face showed just how much she enjoyed the race.
“That was hard,” she said as she cracked a smile through her panting on the sidelines. “But it was a lot of fun.”
Though the participants are given a five-minute sighters period to warm up their trigger fingers and their eyes, increased heart rates draw much more than simple marksmanship skills when it comes to striking the targets accurately.
Army Marksmanship Unit member George Norton, 30, of Phenix City, AL, participated in the event for the first time. According to him, there is a strategy to tackling the shooting and running combination. Though tough, to him, the adventure in finishing the event was worth the challenge.
“I love it. I had no training coming into this,” said Norton, with a laugh. “I think the key is to not sprint the last 50 yards so you can slow your heart rate down. Otherwise you’re just breathing so hard, you can’t really take a shot. It’s really hard.”
With the success of the event at the Dixie Double, Wood hopes the CMP will be able to integrate the Target Sprint into even more air competitions. Allowing a fun, engaging environment to break up the intensity of fierce competition, more and more are expected to take part in the amusement in the future.
“Everybody was just so excited. Coming off of the Dixie Double match, where the focus is very different, you get to come out here and just have fun,” said Wood. “I could see this being something that becomes very popular.”
For more information on the Target Sprint, visit http://www.issf-sports.org/getfile.aspx?mod=docf&pane=1&inst=290&file=Target Sprint Rules DEC 2013.pdf.