KINGSPORT — Two Kingsport teens and a Loudon High School graduate, members of the Blue Dragons Rifle Team of Knoxville, recently won the national championship for indoor air rifle at the NRA National Indoor Rifle & Pistol (Sectional) Championships.
The championships were held earlier this year at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., where hundreds of teens and young adults competed in three categories — open, junior and collegiate — using air pistols, air rifles, small-bore rifles and standard pistols. The competitors shot at paper and electronic targets on an indoor range at distances of 10 meters and 50 meters, respectively.
According to a release from the Cherokee Rod & Gun Club — a sponsor of the Blue Dragons — Elizabeth Lee (a recent graduate of LHS) shot a 582 out of 600, while Quintin Wotring and Spencer Brandon (both of Kingsport) shot a 583 out of 600 and 570 out of 600, respectively.
Total team score was 1,735 out of 1,800, thus the Blue Dragons beat out 42 other teams to nab the top spot.
“These three young people and all of the Blue Dragons have worked very hard to earn their places among the best shooters in the nation,” said team coach Mary Furr. “I’m so very proud of my Blue Dragons.”
Individual results for the three Blue Dragons saw Wotring placing second in the open expert class, with Lee finishing one point behind in third place. Brandon, who has been shooting for just over a year, finished in 12th place.
Wotring’s father, David, said he feels good about the results.
“All of them have worked really hard. It takes lots of time, money and traveling to get there,” he said.
All three teens were invited to the National Junior Olympics in Colorado earlier this year, where Wotring earned a Silver Medal in the prone shooting category. Two of the members went to that competition last year, but no one received medals.
And this weekend, the Blue Dragons will be shooting alongside the competitors jockeying for the two open slots on the U.S. Shooting Team for the 2012 Olympics in London. The trials are being held at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga.
The Blue Dragon team was founded back in 1998 at Gibbs High School, eventually moving to its current location at the John Sevier Hunter Education Range in 2000. The team typically includes up to 10 members from East Tennessee, starting at age 13 and going through the senior class in high school. The team practices three days a week beginning in August and finishes up its competitive season in April.
Blue Dragons shoot in at least one competition match a month under the rules of the National Rifle Association, USA Shooting (the Olympic governing body) or Civil Marksmanship. The air rifle matches are a standing, 60-shot match, while the small-bore matches include three positions (prone, standing and kneeling) in either a 60-shot or 120-shot match.