Rimfire Challenge sharpshooting tourney comes to Summit County Shooting Range on Aug. 29 | SummitDaily.com

Rimfire Challenge sharpshooting tourney comes to Summit County Shooting Range on Aug. 29

Aron Susic waits for instruction before shooting at the Summit Rimfire Challenge in 2013. The annual event hosted by the Summit Range Association returns to the revamped range on Aug. 29, beginnin at 9 a.m.
Jessica Smith / jsmith@summitdaily.com | Summit Daily News

Rimfire Challenge

What: An all-ages shooting tournament and fundraiser hosted by the Summit Range Association, with divisions for .22 caliber and .17 caliber rifles

When: Saturday, Aug. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Summit County Shooting Range, 639 County Road 66 outside of Keystone

Cost: $5 per target, $5 for 40 rounds

The tournament is open to all ages, with awards and trophies for the best youth and adult competitors. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the event begins at 9:00 a.m. Target sales will be open until 11:30 a.m. A limited number of loaner rifles will also be available. For more information on the tournament and other Summit Range Association events, see the SRA website at http://www.summitrange.org.

Hey Summit sharpshooters, clean your barrels and sight your scopes — it’s time for the Rimfire Challenge.

The annual late-summer rifle tournament returns to the Summit County Shooting Range for its third year on Aug. 29. Like the recently renovated range, the tournament has grown bigger and better over the past three years. It’s the only official competition hosted by the Summit Range Association, and, like everything the SRA does, it’s built to bring more people into the sportsman fold.

“This is all about promoting interest in the shooting sports,” SRA president Brian Denison said. “We love to see that next generation get started, and we have some local teens — even kids who are younger than that — who enjoy shooting and enjoy the competition.”

The tournament is an all-ages affair, with an adult division and youth division for competitors younger than 14 years old. It’s also open to all abilities, from absolute beginners to expert marksmen. Ammunition is just $5 for 40 rounds (available at the range), and the SRA will even keep a few rifles on-site to loan out if competitors don’t own one.

Here’s how it works: Competition begins at 9 a.m. on the pistol range, with 50-yard distances for adults and 25-yard distances for youth. It’s open to .22 caliber and .17 caliber rifles only, but, beyond that, the sky is the limit. Competitors can use scopes or open sights, and the range will provide a limited number of rests for the brand-new concrete shooting pad.

The tournament is scored like a traditional rimfire tourney. For $5 apiece, competitors purchase a target with five bull’s-eyes. The uppermost target is for sighting, and competitors are allowed an unlimited number of shots to dial in scopes or sights. From there, it’s five rounds at each of the remaining four targets, which each have a 10-ring and inner X target.

While the tournament draws a handful of top-level shooters — last year’s winner technically took first, second and third place — the SRA touts it as a welcoming, family-friendly event. Last year’s event drew 50 people, ranging in age from 9 to 60 years old.

“I do think that when youth get a chance to see what the sport is like, a lot of them want to come back,” said Denison, who champions gun safety and etiquette along with pinpoint accuracy. “You also have parents who have been shooting forever, and there’s no better way to introduce their children to shooting than through a competition.”

To even the playing field, the tournament isn’t open to range volunteers or SRA board members. As Summit rangemaster Merle Schultz says, “We’ll go out and shoot 220 with Xs in an afternoon” — a near-perfect score. But, this just means more goodies for the winners. The top-three youth finishers earn custom trophies, while the top-three adult competitors win items donated to the SRA throughout the year, from high-end scopes to nine-millimeter and .22 caliber ammo.

More than the Challenge

Along with the tournament, the SRA is also hosting a yard sale during the day. Along with the tournament, it’s one of the association’s largest fundraisers. Money raised over the past two years helped fund much-needed improvements, like the concrete shooting pads and a new staircase from the parking lot to the range.

But, the work isn’t over yet. Denison and Schultz would like to purchase a cover for the pistol range — only the 100-yard rifle range is covered right now — and make other improvements.

The Rimfire Challenge is the SRA’s only official competition of the year, and Schultz encourages folks to come out for a morning of shooting, even if they’ve never sighted a target before. As a lifelong marksman, he enjoys introducing newcomers to the sport. After all, it only takes a steady hand and a few calm breaths to hit the bull’s-eye — at least once.

“My whole life I’ve been a very precise shooter — I grew up with it,” Schultz said. “The one thing I don’t like to see is when people don’t work on their shooting skills, the precision part of shooting. I get a kick out of watching people compete and seeing just how good they can shoot with a little coaching. That’s the fun part.”

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