LAUREL — Shooting is a popular sport in Montana and the kids on the Yellowstone Young Guns team are some of the best in the state.
This years squad placed third in the state, out of 19 total teams, finishing behind the Gallatin Valley Sharpshooters and the Yellowstone County 4-H club team. That top 3 finish was good enough to get them to the Daisy National BB gun championship in Rogers, Arkansas over the Fourth of July weekend. The team consists of 40 members and ultimately seven can go to nationals if the team qualifies.
Participants are tested on four different shooting positions; prone, kneeling, seated and standing. In addition to that, members of the team must complete a written test that is scored 0-100, similar to how the shooting test is scored.
"With the classroom testing portion of the state event we make sure our kids get practice during the season, the same as they do with the shooting portion. They spend about a half hour or 45 minutes once a week before they come out to shoot. They’re learning the safety aspects of handling guns, and knowledge about the guns and the sport," said Jason Thomas, Head Coach of the Yellowstone Young Guns.
Thomas has three kids that actively participate in the club and loves the opportunity to coach his kids and their friends in the sport. The age for participation is 8-15 years old and when introducing new members, safety is the number one priority.
"Our new kids that are in that eight to ten year old range, when they first start, we have coaches with all of them to make sure they learn how to use these guns properly," added Thomas.
The sign ups for the club start in November and the season runs from December through February. The state teams are then put together and practice through April with the hope of making nationals.