4-H national shooting qualifiers Roman Fritz, Rachel Biscoe

Roman Fritz, of North Bend, and Rachel Biscoe, of Philomath, pose with their rifles at a stand they set up at the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo.

In competitive shooting, thinking fast on your feet can make all the difference between going home empty-handed or with a medal hanging around your neck.

During the 4-H Shooting Sports State Contest in mid-June at the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club, Philomath teen Rachel Biscoe ran into a bit of a problem while participating in the event’s firearms division.

As it turned out, the bit of a problem turned into an impressive example of the skill that she’s developed since first introduced to shooting five years earlier. While preparing to shoot in the smallbore rifle competition, she accidentally let the magazine go loose during a maneuver.

“The bullet fell out of the magazine, I tried to put it in backwards, then fixed it, put it back in and racked it and shot five shots,” she explained while demonstrating on her .22-caliber rifle. “I still pulled it off.”

That entire episode occurred within 25 seconds,

“It was quite the adrenaline pump,” said her dad, Robert Biscoe. “Last year, she had a different type of malfunction that kept her from qualifying for nationals. But this year, despite the equipment malfunction, she still pulled it off.”

As her dad indicated, Biscoe punched her ticket to next summer’s 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Biscoe, 17, won the state championships in the smallbore rifle’s senior classification. Roman Fritz, a 15-year-old from North Bend, was the high-point shooter among the intermediates. With both from the same general vicinity and knowing each other from past events, the two have teamed up to try to raise money to cover the expenses associated with next summer’s journey to the Midwest.

Although the national competition is several months away, Biscoe and Fritz aren’t wasting any time trying to raise the $6,000 they expect will be needed for the experience. During last month’s Philomath Frolic & Rodeo, they handed out flyers and set up a booth to give demonstrations.

“My parents shoved me into it five years ago and I got hooked on it,” Biscoe, a home-schooled high school junior, said when asked how she got into shooting. She’s been in 4-H’s competitive rifle program for the past four years.

Fritz, a freshman at North Bend High, has been in 4-H for five years and the rifle program for four of those.

“I went shooting with my friends when I was in second grade and it was really fun,” he said about his introduction to the activity. “My dad started me in archery and the next year, I moved on to rifle.”

With the way the scheduling works out, those in Oregon who qualify out of the state competition have a year to practice for nationals. The state contest’s firearms and archery division features two tracks for shooters — entry level and national championship.

Biscoe is part of the Benton County 4-H Club, which has a season that runs from October to June. Over that 36-week period, she’s able to practice at a range at Oregon State University. Fritz said he gets on a range only twice a month from January to August and despite the exceptional results at state, admitted, “I didn’t practice as much as I could have.”

Most participate in competitive shooting under the guidelines established by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, commonly referred to as CMP. The program promotes firearm safety training and rifle practice with a special emphasis on youth.

Biscoe’s .22-caliber rifle features rapid-fire capabilities.

“You have slow fire, which is five shots in five minutes, and rapid fire is five shots dropping down from a standing position to a prone position, which is lying down or kneeling, and shooting five shots in 25 seconds,” Biscoe said.

“So, that’s why you need a semiautomatic for that,” she added. “You can do it with a bolt action but it’s very difficult.”

Both Biscoe and Fritz believe they’ll be able to handle whatever comes their way at nationals in terms of being able to perform in a high-stakes atmosphere.

“You need to focus your mind and get into your Zen,” said Fritz, who in addition to rifle, archery and pistol, enjoys engineering and designing projects.

The pair will be putting together a plan for fundraising opportunities over the next several months.

“One or two garage sales, maybe a bake sale, maybe an auction — I like that idea,” Biscoe said when asked what they might be doing to bring in some bucks. “We’ll see, we just ended state so everybody’s like, really, why are you starting so early?”

But just like the months of practice these young shooters put in to get ready for competitions, they both see the need to put in the time to see if they can hit their target with fundraising.

For those who would like to contribute with a donation, make checks out to “Benton County 4-H Association — National Shooting Sports Team” with the memo “2019 4-H Nationals Team” and mail them to OSU Extension Service — Benton County, Attn: Benton County 4-H Association, 4077 SW Research Way, Corvallis, OR 97333.

Biscoe said she will answer any questions and can be reached via email at rcbiscoe@gmx.com.

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