Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Gunning for gold

Driven athletes are mostly successful athletes. Many of the junior target shooters with the Red Deer Fish and Game Club are highly motivated, and not surprisingly, have won an impressive number of municipal, provincial, national and international titles.

Driven athletes are mostly successful athletes.

Many of the junior target shooters with the Red Deer Fish and Game Club are highly motivated, and not surprisingly, have won an impressive number of municipal, provincial, national and international titles.

“Commitment is a big thing with them. The one thing you see with them is just a drive to do their personal best at all times,” said coach Steve Medicraft. “It’s a pretty good group of kids, kind of a cross mix of talent and enthusiasm.”

Medicraft coaches the club’s Thursday night crew, with Arno Baron running the Tuesday practice sessions at the club’s indoor range located one-half block west of Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.

Three of the club’s junior shooters — Belle Medicraft in air rifle and Ashley Pikkert and Andrew Thacker in air pistol — will compete in the Canada Winter Games starting Friday in Prince George, B.C.

All three are highly-accomplished shooters. Medicraft, 16, and Pikkert, 18, are two-time defending Alberta junior women’s champions, while Thacker, 18, won and placed second and third in a trio of international competitions last year.

Air pistol athlete Raelynn Pikkert, 18, is an alternate with the provincial Canada Winter Games team.

Medicraft, in his fourth year of coaching the junior shooters, said the sport — at least at the competitive level — features a high degree of camaraderie.

“They get quite a fellowship out of meeting people from other clubs and regions of Alberta and Western Canada,” he said.

Medicraft also sees an element of responsibility among the youth shooters in regards to the safety side of handling firearms and ammunition, and has seen a gradual growth in the number of club members since he became involved in coaching.

“I would say that from my end it (membership) has grown a bit. We have some who are quite young and some who are 17, 18 and 19 years of age,” he said.

“We have a lot of competitive shooters but the club is open to novices as well, just to expose them to shooting.

“What usually happens with a lot of kids is they go from the initial bang-bang excitement to wanting to get into something where they can actually compete and see how they do. A lot of these competitive kids started from a simple introduction to the sport.”

The coach feels that all three shooters headed to Prince George are medal contenders, which is hardly surprising considering their achievements over the last two years.

But they are not alone in that regard, according to the following list of Red Deer youth shooters (including the Canada Winter Game participants) and their respective resumes:

Belle Medicraft: Alberta junior champion (twice); City of Calgary match winner (twice); Eldorada match winner; Maple Leaf Open, first place sub junior, fourth overall, and second place junior, fifth overall; Western Canada championship match winner; Grand Prix, second place sub junior; Memorial Match, first place junior.

Ashley Pikkert: Two-time Alberta junior champion; Maple Leaf Open match winner and first place junior, fifth overall; Grand Prix, first place international junior, fourth overall; Nationals, second place international junior, first place junior team, third place junior/senior team; Western Canada championship match winner; Prairie Open, third overall.

Andrew Thacker: Grand Prix, second place international junior; Nationals, third place international junior; Prairie Open, third place overall; Memorial Match, first international junior.

Raelynn Pikkert: Maple Leaf Open, third place sub junior; Maple Leaf Open, first place junior; Western Canada championship, first place junior; Prairie Open match winner.

Harris Medicraft, 18, air pistol: Maple Leaf Open, second and third; Nationals, second place junior team, first place junior/senior team; Grand Prix, third international junior; Eldorado match winner; Western Canada championship match winner and third place.

Alyssa Dunbar, 16, air pistol: Alberta champion, second place sub junior; Maple Leaf Open, first and second place sub junior; Grand Prix, first place sub junior.

Jorja Budd, 14 air rifle: Western Canada champion, third sub junior, sixth overall.

Tyler Ross, 15, air rifle: Maple Leaf Open, first and fourth place sub junior; Western Canada championship, first place sub junior, eighth overall.

Dylan Lutz, 13, air rifle: Maple Leaf Open, second and fifth place sub junior; Alberta championship, third place sub junior.

Daniel Thacker, 15, air rifle: City of Calgary, second place sub junior; Western Canada championship, second place sub junior.

Jacob Pikkert, 14, air pistol: Western Canada championship, fourth place overall.

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