Cardwell aims for Junior Olympics

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    Patrick County High School Junior Shae Cardwell focuses intensely on a shot at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Cardwell will compete for a spot on Team USA in June. (Photo courtesy of Shae Cardwell)

    Patrick County High School junior Shae Cardwell is part of an air-rifle shooting team that recently qualified for the Junior Olympics national championship event this June. The Patriots Shooting Club of Virginia, based in Virginia Beach, took first place on April 28 at the Virginia Beach qualifying event.

    The last weekend in June, Cardwell will join her three teammates at the Junior Olympics National 3P Air Rifle Championships in Camp Peary, Ohio.

    Cardwell’s individual scores at the April qualifying event earned her third place as an individual. However, she will advance to nationals as a member of the first-place team. Only the top team and top individuals advance to the Ohio championship round.

    On Sunday, June 25, Cardwell’s team will compete in the USA Shooting national event. USA Shooting is the sanctioning body for Team USA. Depending on how many spots are open on Team USA, USA Shooting can promote as many as four shooters to Team USA, but typically takes only the top male and female shooters.

    “It’s always exciting when the team wins,” Cardwell said. “In the first place, we get along very well.” She explained that team members shoot side-by-side, firing off a total of 60 shots in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling.

    The top three teams also receive a monetary award to help defray club expenses, Cardwell continued.

    Also, April 21-25, Cardwell and her father Brent traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., to the Olympic Training Center where she competed as an individual shooter. At that event, she placed seventh in her age division and 15th in the nation out of 55 total competitors representing 23 states.

    Both of Cardwell’s placements in Colorado Springs were for air pistol.

    This summer, Cardwell will be eligible to speak with university recruiters about admission, scholarships and campus visits. She said she still practices at least five nights a week. She uses a SCATT shooter training system that employs a digital camera to track natural point of aim, trigger pull and the length of time she spends holding on the target.

    “I’d also like to say ‘thank you’ to the local Patrick County 4-H Shooting Club and to the Patrick County Shooting Education Team Inc.,” Cardwell said. “I would not have gotten my start if it weren’t for them.”