By Lauren Sprague
On April 17th and 18th in Colorado Springs, Colorado, junior Hana Musser competed in the National Junior Olympic Championships. The Manheim Township junior placed 92nd out of 182 competitors. Musser, when asked about how the competition worked, explained, “you have an hour and fifteen minutes to shoot sixty shots.” On her first day of competition, Musser scored 606.2, which, when converted to the method of scoring used during her school rifle season, was her personal record. On the second day she scored 603.3, which is equivalent to her season average.
The Junior Olympics uses decimal scoring, which is much more precise because of the use of electronic targets. Musser says that during her school season competition, “as long as you’re within the first [ring] out it’s a ten”, when compared to the Junior Olympics where, “a perfect center would be a 10.9.” The highest possible score at the Junior Olympics is 654 for sixty shots. The winner of the competition scored a 624.7 on the first day and 619.7 on the second day.
The environment of the Olympic training center, where the competition took place, was an exciting atmosphere for Musser. At first, Musser illustrated the atmosphere as “very professional and college coaches were there so you felt that it was serious.” She further asserted that “you had to get in a proper mindset.” Musser desires to be on a rifle team in college, which added a layer of pressure to perform well during the competition. She admitted, “I was a little bit nervous because most of the college coaches were there.” Musser was well aware that these coaches were able to observe her while she was competing and were able to view her scores after. Despite her nerves, Musser said that the competition “was actually a lot of fun because even though [she] was nervous,” she enjoyed the music playing in the background and being in her element.
Musser emphasized the importance of controlling nerves during the competition. She states, “shooting is 90% a mental sport, so you have to control [the nerves] otherwise you’ll shake and that interrupts the physical part of the sport and you literally cannot shoot well.” Katy Emmons, an Olympic medalist in rifle, came to speak to the athletes and give them advice on how to control nerves, which Musser found to be useful information.
Musser is aware that the sport is costly and time consuming, as she participates in school rifle and a club team. When reflecting on her journey with the sport, however, Musser remarked that rifle has brought her closer together with her family because she is able to bond with her dad and brother over the sport. She believes that if she continues to perform her sport at this high level she will be able to earn a spot on a college team. Participating in the Junior Olympics was a step in the right direction for the talented athlete.