Hitting their mark
BB gun team 8th in state
by Sarah Fay Campbell
The Coweta County 4-H BB gun team competed in the state match last weekend, ranking eighth out of 88 teams.
Team member Cody Piper took fourth place in the prone position out of 577 shooters, and Noah Isherwood took eighth place in the sitting position.
The team is now prepping for the Georgia Games on April 19.
There are currently 27 members on the 4-H BB gun team. Team members range in age from 8 to 15, said head coach Michael Piper.
The team begins each year with an eight-week safety course before anyone can shoot. Once the safety course has been completed, prospective team members compete for a place on the team.
“This past year we were able to take everybody who tried out,” Piper said, but that doesn’t always happen. A waiting list can be set up for those who don’t make the team, because there are always a few team members who drop out.
Parents are also involved, and each team member has their own coach, usually a parent, who loads the gun and checks the target after every shot to help with adjusting sights. Shooting usually begins after Christmas, and there are several local matches before the state match. The state match this year was the largest BB gun competition in the world, according to Piper.
Team members compete in four positions: prone, kneeling, sitting and standing. During each competition, they attempt to hit each of 10 target bullseyes once. But first they have 10 minutes to shoot unlimited “siters.” That’s when the parent/ coaches are really important. They use binoculars to check the targets.
Safety is paramount, and team members much take a written safety test at every match.
Everyone shoots a Daisy Model 499 BB gun. The guns can be slightly modified for better performance.
In all matches except the Georgia Games, there are no classes or categories. Every team competes on equal footing. The Georgia Games divides the competition into ages and gender.
Being on the BB gun team is "very cool,” said Kaylee Brooks, a fourth-grader at Moreland Elementary School. “I really like shooting guns,” she said.
So does Madison Dill, an eighth-grader at Lee Middle School. “I like to shoot. I’ve been raised shooting all my life,” she said. “It’s just what I like to do.”
It’s her second year on the team, and next year she plans to advance to the sporter rifles team that Piper plans to start. BB guns appear to be popular with girls. And, in many cases, the girls seem to do better. “The girls don’t have the bad habits the boys get from playing cowboys and Indians,” said Piper. “A lot of times we mess with the boys and say, ‘You need to start shooting like girls and you’ll be better,’” he said.
Noah Isherwood wasn’t doing any extracurricular activities, so he decided to give the BB gun team a try. It was the right decision. He’s an eighth grade, homeschooled student in his second year on the team.
His mother and coach, Melissa, likes that shooters are competing against themselves for their personal best. Of course, they are also competing against each other and as a team. “As you increase your personal success, the team succeeds,” she said.
In BB gun competition, only the top performers get awards, said Piper. There’s no medal just for participating.
Piper said that anywhere between 30 and 50 percent of team members return the next year.
Once shooters age out of BB gun, they can go on to sporter rifles, which are pellet guns, shotgun, or archery.
The BB guns are treated like deadly weapons, and a lot of the skills learned from shooting them translate into real firearms.
“It teaches them to use them and teaches them how to carry the guns in a proper manner, especially when there is a big crowd,” Piper said. “If they are in situation where they come up on a gun, they know what they are supposed to do with it or not do with it, whether they are supposed to get an adult,” he said.
Information about the BB gun team is usually sent to Coweta school students in the fall. For more information, visit the team’s new website, www.cowetacountybb.weebly.com .