Despite the ongoing gun control debate rifle teams in Lancaster County continue to compete, and they’re getting positive attention. Seven local teams compete against each other in the Lancaster Lebanon League including Manheim Central, Garden Spot, Ephrata, Manheim Township, Wilson, Elizabethtown, and Conestoga Valley.
“Competitive shooting is where you have shooters that are actually competing against one another to see who can actually get the highest score on their targets,” said Manheim Central Head Coach Steve Waddington. “There’s different kinds of competitive shooting, you have trap shooting, sporting clays, there’s cowboy action shooting.”
Waddington has been coaching for 20 years and competing even longer. “I’ve always enjoyed the shooting sports When I grew up as a kid I shot competitively.”
Using air rifles, pellets and targets, students learn the importance of concentration. “Once you become accustomed to the position you’re relaxing and you almost get into a meditative state,” said Rifle Team member Andrew Houpt.
“I think there’s a lot in this sport. There’s a lot of mental aspect to the shooting sports, opposed to some other sports where you get pumped up at a competition,” said Waddington. “You can keep yourself focused and concentrating on what you need to do at that moment in time. I just see that as a very positive skill that they can walk out of here with which is a life skill as well.”
“I think it’s very important that we are teaching our kids to be responsible in every which avenue that we can in life. I think right now with shooting I think it’s very important if somebody has that interest in shooting. I think it’s very valuable that we actually teach them to be responsible in this environment, and know how to actually use a firearm in a safe manner,” said Waddington.