Each year the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) invites the top junior shooters from all over the US to compete in a National Air Rifle match at the Fort Benning Georgia. To get an invite, shooters have to compete in a 60-shot standing air rifle match. Competitors submit scores individually or as part of a 4-person team. The top 25 individuals and top 25 teams are then invited to Fort Benning for the Championship match.
The Central Illinois Precision Shooting team, coached by Joe Miller, placed 7th in the qualifying match and traveled to Fort Benning in January to compete head-to-head against the top junior shooters. The team consisted of Senior Dylan Gregory from Naperville, Junior Isabelle Gratz from Sigel, Junior Rylie Passmore from McLean, and Freshman Kenly Downey from Leroy.
The weekend started out with a bonus 50 meter outdoor 3 position small bore match. 96 shooters had to deal with some unpredictable winds and fired 20 shots in each position: kneeling, prone and standing, hoping to place in the top 8 to move onto the finals. Rylie Passmore put up a score of 574 to place 5th and moved onto the final.
Finals are fun to watch and intense for the shooters and spectators. They are a timed series of events from standing, kneeling or prone. After each series of shooting the lowest two shooters are eliminated.
Rylie made it all the way to the final two. The scores were then reset to 0 and they had a shoot off and the first person to 16 points wins gold. It was back and forth including a couple ties. Rylie ended up getting silver (16-8) to Sophomore Tyler Wee of North Carolina. Isabella Baldwin, Senior from Tennessee, earned the bronze.
The next two days consisted of each competitor shooting two 60 shot standing air matches. Top 8 with the highest aggregate scores moved onto the final. After shooting 614.3 on day one and 619.2 on day two, Rylie placed 13th out of 112 shooters… and “junior” shooters include those up to age 21.
Not bad for a 16-year-old young lady from McLean, IL.