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Texas Junior Austin Stone Learns By Doing at First National Matches Showing
Austin Stone, 16, of Lindale, Texas, and Charisma Owen, 18, of Wichita Falls, Texas, were the overall winners at the 2021 National Matches Junior Team Trophy .22 Pistol Match, fired in July. The two young competitors represented the Texas State Rifle Association and claimed the Riding the High Places Trophy in their win.
The day of the Team match, the wind pick up dramatically. Stone had never shot in wide-open ranges like the ones of Camp Perry and was given an immediate, personal lesson on the range.
“I had to quickly adjust to the constant pushing and pulling of the wind,” he explained. “I was a little nervous, but, mainly, I just wanted to perform well with Charisma, who has done well in this event in the past.”
Owen, who competes in both service rifle and bullseye pistol, has been a part of the shooting sports world since she joined her local 4-H Club in 2012. Developing a strong interest in marksmanship, she became involved with the Texas Junior Service Rifle and Junior Pistol Team a few years later. She earned her Distinguished Rifleman Badge in 2019, the same year she attended her first National Pistol Matches and is now on her way to achieving the same honor in Service Pistol.
“Shooting with Charisma was so much fun, and there is so much I can learn from her,” Stone said. “She is a great captain and is always encouraging the other juniors. She’s very experienced with shooting and has been very successful.”
“She’s also very outgoing and fun to be around and puts everyone on the firing line in a good mood,” he added.
Stone has been shooting competitive pistol for a little over two years now, since attending a safety training class with a friend.
“After the training, we went through a bullseye pistol style match,” he explained. “Dan Miller, who has been shooting for years, asked me if I wanted to shoot bullseye competitively, and that’s when it began.”
As a member of the Texas State Rifle Association Pistol team, Stone mainly competes in bullseye but also shoots ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) sport and air pistol, along with CMP EIC (Excellence-In-Competition) matches. He uses a .22 caliber Hammerli 208 International, built in the 1970s.
This year was Stone’s first trip to the National Matches and, in his words, he “definitely got the Camp Perry experience with all the rain, and wind and challenges.”
“But I enjoyed it. It was a great experience,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself and how I shoot and learned a lot from all the other great shooters. It was different and difficult having to shoot multiple times a day for multiple hours each day, but very worth it.”
“This sport has great people, and they were all very helpful and supportive of me as a junior,” Stone went on. “There was always someone to help me with any question I had, from shooting in the moment to moving forward and developing as a marksman.”
Some important advice he received was focusing on each shot individually, forgetting about the bad ones and trusting his shot process. Having encouragement from veteran marksmen was helpful to Stone as he navigated the tough, yet exciting, atmosphere of the National Matches.
“Camp Perry was a great experience, and I really appreciate the spirit of the games and shooters,” he said. “This is a great sport, and I learned so much about shooting and mental techniques from all the very helpful and supportive people. The entire time, I felt very supported as a fairly new junior shooter.”
For the future, Stone hopes to continue shooting .22 bullseye and sport pistol and working his way to a .22 Distinguished Rimfire Pistol Badge. He’s even thinking about becoming part of a collegiate team one day.
Find out more on the CMP’s Pistol Program by logging onto the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-pistol-program/. The 2022 National Match calendar is posted at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uCgLkHYEv4XWO1GXwGy3aoQfICXkFh1dms9-NqWNB6U/edit#gid=405070993.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.
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