If you are reading this blog, you are someone who loves airguns or is hard on the trail to learn about them and the sport of airgunning. What was your first airgun? The overwhelming percentage of airgunners will have started with a Daisy Airgun. It may be the Daisy RedRyder or Daisy 880, but it probably was a Daisy. So it makes sense that their tagline is “It all starts with Daisy.”
This past 4th of July, we had the pleasure of joining Daisy for the 55th Daisy Nationals hosted in Rogers, Arkansas. On a side note, if you ever get to Rogers, make sure to stop by the Daisy Airgun Museum, as it’s a great way to spend an hour or two learning about Daisy Airguns and their over 140 years in the business of building airguns and promoting shooting sports here in the USA.
What is the “Daisy Nationals?”
The Daisy Nationals is a youth shooting competition that brings shooting teams from all over the country to compete for the top prize of the Best BB Gun Team in the United States. This year there were a total of 375 shooters across 54 teams. Each team travels with 5 primary shooters and 2 alternates. Additionally, and new for this year, Daisy held the first-ever 10 Meter Sporter Air Rifle competition. Adding this “next level” to the competition is a great addition to the event and gives shooters aging out of BB Gun Competition a clear path forward.
How Do Shooters Make it to Nationals?
The road to the Daisy Nationals is not easy. Teams compete on the local level and have to place as one of the top 3 teams in their state to qualify. Once you qualify, the work starts. Daisy’s commitment to the sport goes beyond the competitive side and focuses on shooter education, gun safety, gun knowledge, and personal discipline. There’s a written test component that generally strikes terror into the hearts of the competitors, as the winners are more often decided in the classroom than on the firing line. This commitment to gun safety education and other key developmental factors set the Daisy Nationals apart.
What Was it Like at the Event?
It may be hard for some folks to comprehend, but if you could imagine a family reunion with 500 or more of your closest family members, you’d start to get an idea of what it’s like to be at the Nationals. Sure, teams are there to compete and win. But, the feeling you get walking down the halls seeing children from 8 to 16 all getting along, sitting, playing games, and just having a great time; it will move you. As a parent with their 15-year-old daughter helping to cover the event, it was beyond touching to know that she was safe and could just have a wonderful time meeting other children, parents, and coaches from all over the country. Children will be children, but we did not hear of a single event that required intervention.
While we may focus on the products and the performance most of the time, it’s nice to know that there’s still one company investing in the shooting youth of America. Not only their shooting skillsets but everything else that goes with it. If you ever get the chance to attend the event, you’ll see firsthand how courage, responsibility, camaraderie, leadership, teamwork, and humility are poured into these children.
How Does the Event Run?
The event is held over 3 days. On the first day, shooters get to sight in and test their equipment. They also sit for a one-hour exam where questions are read, and the competitors have to answer on their tests. These tests are then scored and represent 20% of their overall team shooting score.
Day two starts the shooting portion. There are a total of 4 positions with 10 shots each. Competitors shoot two positions per day. On the first day, they shoot in the Prone and Standing positions, and on the second day, they shoot Kneeling and Sitting. Targets are immediately scored using the Orion scoring system, and the results are shown on a big display outside the shooting range.
Shooting totals are combined with their test totals to give each shooter their final overall score. The maximum possible shooting score is 400 with 40X. An “X” is where the bullseye is completely removed from the target by the BB. Adding a perfect exam score brings the overall possible total to 500 points per shooter. The team with the highest aggregate score is the winner of the event.
Individual Shooters are Recognized
Several awards are given for individual achievements, such as top shooters for each position. Several shooters shot perfect cards this year, with the winners determined by the number of Xs they scored.
In the event of a tie, shooters go into a sudden-death playoff having to shoot shot for shot, with the lower-scoring shooters getting knocked out as they go. That’s a ton of pressure for young shooters. But, it’s this kind of healthy competition that helps develop mental discipline.
And the Winner Is
This year’s winning team was the Walton County 4-H BB Gun Team from Walton County, Georgia. They won with an overall aggregate score of 2412. To put things in perspective, the 2nd place team scored a total of 2403, and the 3rd place team’s aggregate was 2398. The difference between 3rd and 1st was only 14 points! Looking at the top ten teams, the separation from 10th to 1st was only 69 points. In an interview, the 2022 Champions stated that hard work, discipline, and great coaching helped them get to the “big show” and take home the gold.
For more information about the Daisy Nationals, their youth shooting programs, and for some great educational and training materials, please visit www.daisy.com/nationals.