Walther LG300XT

One of the air rifles used by our junior precision shooters. Walther LG300XT Junior.

Photography by Matthew Kou and Timothy Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.


Winter Airgun Championships 2013

AIAC’s Ambrosia, Anatoly, Irina, Karen, Lyuda, Matthew, Michael participated in the 2013 Winter Airgun Championship, held at the USA Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

Photography by Matthew Kou

Illinois Junior Shooting Team Takes National Championship

ANNISTON, AL (July 18, 2008) – Three junior air pistol competitors from the Arlington International Airgun Club (AIAC) of Arlington Heights, IL, won the gold medal at the 2008 USA Shooting Progressive Air Pistol Championship held at the new CMP Competition Center in Anniston, AL.

The Progressive Air Pistol Championship, headed by USA Shooting with support from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), brings junior teams from across the country to compete for the title as top junior air pistol team in the nation.

After 2 days of competition, the “AIAC Juniors” team of James Stack (Arlington Heights), Lorraine Maligaya (Mundelein, IL), and Luke Mattox (Bradley, IL) came out on top.  The team’s final score of 2033 points put them ahead of the second place team by 21 points.  Earlier this season the team won the 2008 Illinois State Progressive Air Pistol Championship to qualify for the national championship.

Team Captain James Stack also took the individual gold medal at the championship with a 2-day combined score of 818, 19 points over the next competitor. In addition to the gold medal, James also received appointment to the USA Shooting National Development Team for his outstanding performance.

“The team really pulled together, helping each other to overcome some last-minute adversity.” said Coach Don Weber (Arlington Heights, IL), referring to an ill-timed bout with the flu for one of the team members.  “Airgun competition stresses mental toughness, and our team proved it had what it takes to win the championship.” added Coach Weber.

The Arlington International Airgun Club is open to adults and juniors (ages 12 to 18) that are interested in Olympic-style airgun shooting. The junior program focuses on teaching proper gun safety and promoting competitive achievement. In addition to air pistol, the junior program also offers 3-Position (3P) air rifle and International air rifle training.

USA Shooting is the U.S. Governing Body of Olympic shooting and is headquartered at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

Airgun competitors finish 4th in nation

By Daily Herald

The Arlington International Airgun Club AIAC Juniors team finished with a bronze medal in the sporter-class club category of the National Junior Olympic Three-Position Air Rifle Championship held this month in Bowling Green, Ky.

The team includes Katrina Meier and Nicholas Meier, both of Glenview, and Hannah McHugh of Palatine and Matthew Kou of Prospect Heights.

The contest included 15 state champion teams, as well as the winning national champion team, from as far away as Hawaii.

In national overall sporter-class standings, the club finished fourth out of 36 teams.

Top AIAC Juniors finisher in the individual overall standings was Katrina Meier at 18th place in the 151-competitor field. Her score placed her seventh in her age category that included 51 competitors.

A shot at the gold

By Eileen O. Daday, Daily Herald Correspondent

Hannah McHugh, 16, of Palatine dreams of one day going to the Olympics, and in her case it’s not that far-fetched. She’s the reigning Illinois Junior Olympic gold medalist, and next week she leads her four-person team to nationals.

They compete in the little-known sport of Olympic-style three-position (3P) air rifle competition, both in the precision and sporter classes. Joining McHugh as she prepared for nationals are Matthew Kou, 17, of Prospect Heights; and siblings Katrina and Nicholas Meier of Glenview, who are 15 and 17, respectively.

Together they will represent Illinois at the 2004 National Junior Olympic 3P Championship, starting July 10 in Bowling Green, Ky. Every Wednesday and Saturday they practice with their team, the Arlington International Airgun Club, at their rifle range set up in the sunken gym at Christian Liberty Academy.

“Watching air gun competition is like watching paint dry, it’s very boring,” McHugh conceded. “But when you’re on the line shooting, there’s so much concentration, self-discipline and attention to detail that go into it.”

Her teammate, Katrina Meier, who took the individual silver medal at the state meet, agrees, adding that the slightest little movement can throw your whole shot off. Yet scoring that perfect center continues to drive her.

“I love it,” she said. “I love the competition of it. It’s such an adrenaline rush and then you have to calm yourself to set up for the next shot.”

At Saturday’s practice, a former Olympic shooter spoke about just that, as well as the mental toughness it takes to succeed at the national and Olympic level.

Michael Douglass was one of only two male air pistol shooters representing the United States at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. He grew up in Beach Park and learned to shoot competitively at Waukegan High School, graduating in 1994.

Douglass continued his competitive shooting while attending Marquette University, and eventually was selected to train at the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs.

“I started out much the same as you’re doing, but the key is to make a national team,” said Douglass, who retired from the sport after the Olympics and works as an Aurora, Colo., police officer.

Douglass described goal-setting techniques and the power of a positive attitude and visualization, before reinforcing good sideline habits and trigger control.

“I equate the sport a lot to golf, it’s one shot at a time,” Douglass said. “There’s lots of technique and repetition of motion, between the stance and execution that goes into each shot.”

There’s also a strict set of guidelines that goes into every time the teens set foot in the range.

“There’s so many rules that go into it,” Kou said, “but safety is absolutely the No. 1 rule.”

A range officer oversees all of their practices. Team members follow his commands on when to commence shooting and when to cease, and no one crosses the line.

“You learn to respect (the rifles),” said Nicholas Meier, a former sea cadet who joined the club to concentrate on his marksmanship. “People get into trouble with guns because they don’t respect them, they treat them as toys.”

His coach, Jay Vergenz of Mount Prospect, concurs. “The sport requires a lot of respect and maturity,” Vergenz said, “which is why it is the safest sport in NCAA history.”

The teens follow strict guidelines, including always keeping the gun pointed toward the target, always keeping their finger off the trigger until the marshal signaled the start, and they kept the barrel of the gun unloaded until they were ready to start.

Targets are set up 10 meters away, lit up with spotlights. They are mounted on steel backstops so that when the small pellet hits, they flatten out and drop down into a trap.

“These rifles have just enough velocity to get it to the target,” said Bob Stack of Arlington Heights, whose son, James, 13, competes. “They are not classified as firearms because they are a very low-powered instrument, as compared to rifles that the military would use.”

The team credits its sanctioned range and equipment to funding it received from the National Rifle Association Foundation that supports safety instruction and education relating to the shooting sports.

AIAC Juniors Dominate 2004 State Junior Olympic 3P Championship

CHEBANSE, IL, 2/14/04 — The 2004 Illinois State Junior Olympic 3P Championship was held on Valentine’s Day at the River Valley Sharpshooters’ 18-point air rifle range in Chebanse, IL. Over 50 competitors from across the state were in attendance, vying for the chance to become the 2004 Illinois State Junior Olympic Champion in the precision and sporter 3 Position (3P) air rifle classes. In addition, winners of the precision and sporter-class team categories would be invited to represent Illinois at the National Junior Olympic Championship this summer.

The AIAC Juniors of Arlington Heights, IL, made the 2-hour trip south to Chebanse with 10 of its best sporter-class competitors and 2 sporter-class teams for the championship. When the individual sporter-class results were tallied, the club would once again come out on top in the 30-competitor field. AIAC Juniors would take home gold, silver, and bronze individual medals as well as 5 additional individual awards. Team member Hannah McHugh surpassed all competitors to finish as gold medallist and 2004 Illinois State 3P Sporter-Class Champion. Hannah’s score of 526 was a new personal best, beating her previous high score fired at the 2003 NRA National Championship by 6 points. Taking the individual silver medal was her teammate Katrina Meier with a score of 519 – also a new personal best. Katrina’s strong standing scores and consistency in each stage has helped propel her to the top of the results this season. Matthew Kou placed as the bronze medallist with a score of 499. Other AIAC Juniors receiving individual awards were Grace McHugh, Nicholas Meier, Benjamin Dove, and Katie Dorn.

While the individual results were used to crown the 2004 Illinois State Junior Olympic 3P Champions, it would be the 4-person team championship – and a trip to the nationals – that was the true focus of the match for most.

In the sporter-class team championship it was the “AIAC Gold” team of individual medallists Hannah McHugh, Katrina Meier, Matthew Kou, and Age 17 Category winner Nicholas Meier firing a winning score of 2012 to become the 2004 Illinois State Sporter-Class Team Champions and earn the AIAC Juniors the honor of representing Illinois at the 2004 National Junior Olympic Championship in Bowling Green, KY, this July.

Congratulations to the AIAC Juniors team members, Head Coach Peter Dorn, and coaches Don Weber, Ed Hewson, and Jay Vergenz, for their accomplishment.

Shooting Sports USA

Congratulations to the AIAC Juniors members listed in the Jan 2004 of the NRA’s Shooting Sports USA magazine. At the bottom of page 10 in the “Score Sheet” section is a report about the Streator Shooting Camp that included junior air rifle matches for shooters attending the camp as well as regular area competitors.

The parts referring to the AIAC Juniors shooters are:

“The Sporter men’s class was won by Nicholas Meier of Glenview, IL…The sporter women’s class was won by Katrina Meier, Nicholas Meier’s sister”.

“The 3-position air rifle tournament was a hard-fought battle all the way to the end. The sporter class was won by Grace McHugh with a 524. Second was Matt Kou with a 515, and third was Hannah McHugh with a 504. The first-, second-, and third-place competitors were from Arlington Heights, IL, and they shoot on the same high school team.”

Nicholas Meier was also credited with third in the 75-foot outdoor 3-position match.

ISRA Teams Head To NRA National Junior Air Gun Team Championship

Article by Jay Vergenz

13 junior air rifle and air pistol shooters and 3 team coaches from across the state made the more than 1000-mile journey to represent Illinois at the 2003 NRA National Junior Air Gun Team Championship and Training Summit this July 10 –13 in Wilmington, NC.

The ISRA fielded junior teams in all classes (3-position precision air rifle, 3-position sporter air rifle, and air pistol), with selections determined by individual performances at the 2003 ISRA Grassroots Air Gun League (GAGL) Championship held in Streator, IL, this past April.

The junior shooters selected for the ISRA teams were: Andrew Dove (River Valley Sharpshooters – Kankakee), Greg Fleischman (Quincy High School Rifle Team), Mike Schoch (Quincy High School Rifle Team), Diana Vollmer (Pekin High School JROTC), and alternate Alex Senn (Wheaton Rifle Club) in the 3-position (3P) precision air rifle class. Matthew Kou (AIAC Juniors – Arlington Heights), Grace McHugh (AIAC Juniors – Arlington Heights), Hannah McHugh (AIAC Juniors – Arlington Heights), Brittany Conger (Pekin High School JROTC), and alternate Cole Smith (Pekin High School JROTC) in the 3P sporter air rifle class. The junior air pistol team consisted of Josh Holtman (Quincy High School), Lyle Blundell (Sandy Ford Junior Shooters – Streator), and Tim Danner (Sandy Ford Junior Shooters – Streator).

Coaches for the championship included Major Lee Redmon from Pekin High School JROTC for the 3P precision team, Peter Dorn from the Arlington International Airgun Club (AIAC) of Arlington Heights for the 3P sporter team, and Robert Distlehorst of Quincy High School for the air pistol team.

The rifle matches were held at the Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington, NC, on a temporary 48-point 10-meter air rifle range. In addition to its 150-foot-long convention hall, the former train station also housed a railroad museum that included a restored steam-engine and vintage railcars on display. The pistol portion of the championship was held at a local indoor high school range, with the ISRA’s Jim Kinkade overseeing scoring and match statistics. Also working at the pistol range with Coach Kinkade were Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) pistol coach Will Hart and Citadel pistol coach Dr. Joel Sexton

For many of the Illinois shooters this match would be their first nation-level competition, yet all were calm, confident, and eager to compete. The atmosphere on the firing-line was “all business” for the junior competitors, with every shooter focusing on firing his or her next “personal-best” score. The competition on the firing-line was fierce, but always with respect shown to the other competitors. Dedication to the shooting sports requires a high level of discipline, which becomes evident in the actions and attitudes of the young competitors. Thousands of dollars of rifles and equipment are often left unguarded without concern of theft, and equipment is frequently loaned to competitors in-need.

With almost 200 junior competitors in attendance from as far away as California, the competition promised to be tough. Top individual scores in most categories were near record level, with very high team scores as well. The ISRA 3P precision team of Dove, Fleischman, Schoch, and Vollmer fired a 2-day team grand aggregate score of 4479 out of a possible 4800 points, with Diana Vollmer firing a team-leading individual grand aggregate score of 1133 out of a possible 1200 points. In the final standings the ISRA 3P precision team would finish 15th out of the 21 precision teams competing.

The ISRA 3P sporter team of Kou, G. McHugh, H. McHugh, and Conger fired a team grand aggregate score of 4083 out of a possible 4800 points, placing them 8th in the field of 15 sporter teams. The 3P sporter class is designed as the entry-level to position air rifle competition, and is restricted to approved “sporter” air rifles that are significantly less expensive than “precision” air rifles. Rifle adjustments are not permitted after the start of the match, and special shooting clothing used to aid stability is not allowed. Sisters Grace and Hannah McHugh both fired precision-level prone scores with their sporter equipment, with Hannah’s 98 out of 100 just besting her sister’s 97 during the prone stage of the match. ISRA sporter team captain Matt Kou fired an outstanding personal-best score of 527 out of 600 on the second day of competition, with teammate Hannah McHugh not far behind with a score of 520 – a new personal-best as well. Hannah’s individual grand aggregate score of 1038 out of a possible 1200 points made her the ISRA’s top-scoring sporter shooter and placed her 24th out of the 69 sporter shooters entered – this in just her first year of air rifle shooting.

The air pistol team of Holtman, Blundell, and Danner fired a grand aggregate score of 1882 out of a possible 2400 points, placing them 6th in the field of 9 air pistol teams. Top individual scorer for the team was Lyle Blundell with an individual grand aggregate score of 679 out of a possible 800 points, which placed him 7th overall individually out of 30 air pistol competitors.

Another interesting part of this event for the junior shooters, as well as the coaches, was the “Training Summit”. The Training Summit featured informative lectures from national NRA staff, top coaches, and well-known speakers from across the nation. The lectures, held on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, were within walking distance of the dorm facilities used by the teams while attending the championship. Subjects covered during the Training Summit included how to use a shooting diary, developing training plans, match tactics, NCAA Shooting Programs, the history of airguns, as well as a historical lecture covering the accomplishments of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee (1888-1945). Vice Admiral Lee, a highly decorated war hero and naval commander, is the only American to have won both the U.S. National High Power Rifle and Pistol Championships in the same year (1907), and went on to win 5 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal as a member of the U.S. Olympic rifle team in the 1920 Olympic games in Belgium. Lee’s remarkable career all began with basic marksmanship training.

The team members and coaches would like to thank the ISRA and its members for sponsoring their trip to the 2003 NRA National Junior Air Gun Team Championship. The trip provided valuable experience for all of the junior shooters, and afforded them an excellent opportunity to meet new people and visit new places through their involvement in the shooting sports.