The marksmen stand side by side inside the fluorescent-lit makeshift range with their rifles placed under their breast.
Over a choppy microphone, the state chair bellows the first position in the three-part competition.
“Prone,” she announces to the crowd.
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Each competitor, aged 10 to 18, boys and girls, drops to their underbelly and takes aim at their manila-colored microscopic paper target that stands three meters away.
Each shot is as important as the next — there’s no margin for error.
Holding their breaths, with a limited stock of .117-caliber pellets for the 600-feet-per-second CO2 and pump rifles, the shooters check every detail before slowly pulling the trigger to their heartbeat.
Once the round is over, after 15 minutes of shooting, the targets are turned into Seymour coach Jim Tracey.
Tracey puts the targets through an electronic fax-type machine that downloads the scores to a computer.
On Saturday, Seymour American Legion Post 89 hosted the State Junior Shooting competition for the first time in the post’s history.
Teams, coming from as far as Fort Wayne, gathered at the post for the chance at receiving a bronze, silver or gold badge.
Throughout the day, 54 contestants took to the range.
“There’s been a lot of growth,” 16-year state chairperson Ida May Jewell said. “We started out with 10 to 15 shooters when we began the competitions. We were close to 60 today. It’s exciting for everyone.”
Contestants shot in the prone, standing and kneeling positions to accumulate an overall score. Awards were given to each position and overall totals.
There are 10 Legions that participate in the shooting club throughout the state.
In just its second year, the Seymour squad consists of eight shooters. Five competed in all three events at state Saturday.
The team has practiced and competed since October and concluded its season Saturday.
The youngest member of the team is 10 years old, while the oldest is a junior in high school.
In order to hold a shooting event at a Legion, coaches must undergo a certification process.
“Our main focus is safety,” Jewell said. “(The kids) are very disciplined, and you can’t shoot if you’re not disciplined. That’s one of the selling points. You have to be disciplined and have concentration.”
The Seymour team shoots once a week inside the Legion. This season, they went one-on-one against Jasper in team play.
Tracey, Rick Rigsby and Daniel Lakins coach the Seymour team.
“Shooting is kind of bred into the people of southern Indiana,” Tracey said. “I had never fired a rifle until I was in the service, but most kids like to do that around here. A lot of kids have fired their grandpa’s gun. You kind of recondition some kids who are used to shooting high-powered guns for target shooting.”
Post 89’s junior shooting sports team is open to the public. They provide the air rifles, owning six in total. Shooters are allowed to bring their own personal gun if they have one.
Shooting offers an alternative sport for kids.
“It’s been fun. The thing about shooting sports is they don’t run, jump or kick a ball,” Tracey said. “They learn how to breathe and be steady, hold a rifle correctly and safety.”
While the current state competition allows any member to participate, with the growing number of interest in the state, there may soon be a qualification process to make the finals.
There also was a beginner shooting competition on the day for those just picking up the sport.
In September, the post will begin preparing for the 2015-16 season. Children are encouraged to contact Post 89 for more information.
(based on a perfect score of 300, bullseyes follow dashes)