Shooters compete at Nationals

SEELEY LAKE - The Hellgate Civilian Shooters team placed 32 out of 55 teams at the Civilian Marksmanship (CMP) National Championship in Port Clinton, Ohio July 13-15. The team was ranked seventh going into the competition.

"The best thing they did was that every one of the kids kept their performance together, they had a shot plan, they stuck to it, they worked through some of their nerves," said Hellgate Civilian Shooters Coach Trace Weisenburger. "That's how we train."

The team brought five shooters to the competition including Sam Weisenburger and Libby Diller, who've competed at nationals before, as well as Marcus Klemp, Laurisa Ross and Ellis McAfee, who all competed nationally for the first time.

"They got the experience, and the nerves, and the jitters, and everything that goes with that," said Coach Weisenburger. "This year I knew we weren't going to be placing because we just don't have the team members that we lost [due to graduation last year]. We were rebuilding and so we are still rebuilding."

Klemp led the team with an aggregate score of 582. Weisenburger posted a score of 577, which was better than his state championship score of 565. Ross followed with a score of 572, closely followed by McAfee with a score of 571. Diller rounded out the team with an aggregate score of 569.

Despite not placing as high as they were ranked, Weisenburger and Diller were recognized as Junior Distinguished Riflemen. According to, the award is given to shooters who distinguish themselves through a series of high rankings in major championships and earn 30 excellence-in-competition points.

The Spokane JRC won the competition. Montana was also represented by the Gallatin Valley Sharp Shooters of Bozeman, which placed fifth and the Yellowstone Rifle Club of Billings, which placed 20th. According to Coach Weisenburger, the athletes develop friendships with other competitors in their region.

"It's pretty cool when you can see your teammates that you've known forever on the national championship stand," said Coach Weisenburger.

This was the fourth team that Coach Weisenburger brought to nationals. He hopes to bring another team to the competition next year. Other than that, he hopes that his athletes can take the lessons they learn from shooting and apply them to make them better people and open up new opportunities for them. Many of his athletes have landed shooting scholarships at their top college choices.

Coach Weisenburger added, "Shooting itself is not the end game. Everything that shooting provides is the end game."


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