By Ashley Brugnone,
Though only in the eighth grade, Katie Zaun, 14, of the Buffalo Sharpshooters from North Dakota, showed exceptional marksmanship maturity as she became the aggregate winner of the National Three-Position Championships after earning third place in the National Junior Olympic match and first over her fellow competitors in the National Civilian Marksmanship Program event.
She was full of smiles as she posed for photos in a USA Shooting jacket as the newest member of its junior team, which was the honor she received for winning the two-day precision aggregate. She was also humble standing next to her family, grateful for her win and still unable to comprehend beating each competitor around her–most much more developed in years.
“It doesn’t really click in my mind,” she said of her win. “It’s crazy, shooting against really good people who are actually older than me – it really is. I’m still in shock.”
Zaun has been shooting since she was eight years old, beginning with BB gun before moving on to air rifle and smallbore, where she’s been practicing precision style shooting for almost five years now. This was her third trip to the Air Rifle Nationals event–and this time, she had goals in mind.
“All I wanted was to get into the finals because I was really close last year. I wasn’t expecting to place or anything,” she explained. “The previous years I’d get like seventh or eighth in the finals, and I’d been really excited about that because it’s the finals–it’s important. This year I just kind of stayed in my zone and kept putting [the shots] down.”
The National Air Rifle Championships for junior precision and sporter air rifle competitors was held June 21-23 and June 24-26 at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center, located on the grounds of Camp Perry in Ohio. The event combines the National Junior Olympic (JO) match with the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) competition. Individual and team awards are presented to each day’s winners, along with an award for the overall precision competitor of the two-day aggregate, who receives an honorary place on the USA Shooting junior team.
Unable to settle for just a regular win, Zaun set the bar even higher as she fired a new Age Group 3 National Record for a 3×20 plus Final during her CMP Nationals win, with a score of 697.9 – passing the previous record by 0.6 points. She had also received her Distinguished Air Rifle Badge, needing only one final point coming into the weekend.
With an entire high school career ahead of her, Zaun plans to keep on shooting. She doesn’t quite have any set plans, but she knows she’ll enjoy every second of her journey.
“I just want to have fun right now and see where it takes me,” she said.
In the CMP precision match, Rebecca Lamb, 15, of the Arlington Optimist Acorns CJRC from Virginia followed Zaun in second place with a score of 694.4, as individual competitor Jared Eddy, 16, of Midland, GA, finished with an overall score of 692.7.
In sporter, the ladies of the Zion Benton team from Illinois claimed the top two places in the CMP event as Jaycie Hoenig, 18, passed her teammate, Hailey Smith, 18, with a score of 668.3 for the win.
Behind Hoenig, Zion Benton teammate Hailey Smith fired an aggregate score of 663.8, as last year’s sporter JO Champion, Levi Carlson, 18, of Nation Ford HS MCJROTC from South Carolina, secured the third place spot with a score of 653.6.
Though Smith just missed out on the CMP Championship title, she had earlier made her mark when she fired an astonishing 10.9 on her last finals shot to become the overall winner of the JO competition with a commanding score of 666.8. She beat out last year’s CMP National Champ Emma Thompson, who squeaked by Hoenig by 0.3 points. The girls recorded scores of 656.5 and 656.2, respectively.
During her JO finals performance, Thompson also set a new Navy JROTC finals record with a score of 98.5, impressively jumping from sixth place to second. She even fired a difficult 10.9 shot and finished with a 10.7 on her final pellet during her astounding comeback.
In precision JO action, Sarah Osborn, 18, of Patriot Shooting Club from Virginia, outshot her closest competitor by 0.2 points to become the overall champion–recording a score of 691.9.