From July 6-9, the nation’s top youth teams—ages 8 to 15—will be testing their marksmanship skills in the Rogers (Arkansas) Convention Center as they compete in the The Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match. The 5-meter, 4-position NRA-sanctioned match is in its 56th year, an annual event only interrupted in an abundance of caution during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Individual and Team National Champions will be crowned shortly after the ranges go cold.
One writer for American Rifleman, who covered the matches for more than a decade, said were it not for his family obligations he’d be going back just to savor the gun safety discipline showcased by the youngsters and again witness that firing line focus. According to him, in more than 100 interviews with competitors he’s only spoken to one competitor or parent who said schoolwork didn’t improve with time behind a trigger.
The youths always arrive with the focus and concentration it takes to hit bullseyes downrange and excel in school, but the Daisy Nationals add special events for the youngsters. There are costume and car-decorating contests sponsored by Academy Sports & Outdoors, a Barter Bar (an evening of trading items brought from their area) and a night at the Rogers Aquatic Center.
Competitive teams consist of five shooters and two alternates. Each team has practiced and competed all year for the chance to qualify for the Daisy Nationals and must place in the top three positions in a state match to receive an invitation to the prestigious event. Competitors shoot at an official target placed at 5-meters, delivering 10 shots each from the standing, sitting, kneeling and prone shooting positions during the match. All competitors shoot a Daisy Model 499B, touted as the most-accurate 5-meter BB gun in the world.
Each shot is worth 10 points, for a total of 400 possible, but each competitor must also take a test that covers gun safety and general gun/match knowledge. The test is worth 100 points, so each competitor is shooting for 500 points. Proof that these kids are good comes from last year’s Individual National Champion Zoe Dissing. She set a new record with a score of 494—only six points shy of perfect.
This year 15 states will be represented with teams coming from as far away as Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, Georgia among others. Any organization can start a BB Team, but most come from the 4-H Shooting Sports program. New teams must complete a 10-hour Daisy Shooting Sports Curriculum before ever picking up a BB gun.
“Some coaches bring their teams every year,” said Daisy Public Relations Director Lawrence Taylor. “I’m not sure the exact count, but I know that Coach Howard Baker has brought his Oregon Timber Beasts to the Nationals for 18 or 19 years in a row.”
Early Registration begins July 5 and continues on the 6th. On the 7th, competitors get their practice time at the line and take the Safety Test, then attend Opening Ceremonies where they compete for prizes in the Costume, T-Shirt and Most-Patriotic contests. Competition commences for the next two days with Closing Ceremonies wrapping up that evening just in time to head to the water park.