Designed as a development and recruitment vehicle for aspiring youth pistol athletes, the Progressive-Position Pistol Program (PPP) is evolving at the request of competitors to provide greater inclusion and opportunity. New to the program is a dual venue National Championship in 2013 that will incorporate two of the premier shooting facilities in the country with the Colorado Springs Olympic Shooting Center and the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) in Ft. Benning, Ga., being utilized as concurrent venues of competition.

The PPP National Championships will take place July 24-25 at these two prime locations. The Colorado Springs Olympic Shooting Center will serve as the Western venue and Ft. Benning will be the Eastern venue. With Nationals being held previously in Camp Perry, Ohio, participation among pistol competitors in Western states was sparse and event organizers hope that the addition of a Western venue will spur interest and participation. Registration for the PPP National Championships begins today and can be done so HERE.

The PPP program is intended to introduce young pistol athletes to competitive pistol target shooting and give them a natural progression into the Junior Olympic pistol competitions sponsored by USA Shooting (USAS) and the conventional pistol competitions sponsored by the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). The program is designed to allow competitors to participate with a minimum outlay for equipment and expense. Shooting range requirements are designed with enough flexibility to enable a program to be set up almost anywhere that air pistols can be discharged safely and legally. PPP is a great introduction to the sport as the equipment, and particularly the ammunition, is less expensive as well as cleaner and quieter. Temporary ranges can easily be set up in any large area (like a gym) as these guns do not require a permanent back-stop or special ventilation system. USA Shooting and the National Rifle Association both host this event.

“USAS is committed to developing the next generation of champions and the PPP program is one of the best avenues for success in youth pistol,” said Michael Theimer, 1976 Olympian and the Youth Programs and Athlete Development Manager for USA Shooting. “We’re especially excited to introduce this dual venue concept in hopes of spurring even greater participation.”

Youth involvement in the pistol discipline is a primary goal of USA Shooting to help create greater participation within the sport and to ultimately increase the quality and depth of our future Olympic pistol athletes. Traditionally, one of the problems has been that most air guns are too heavy for smaller, younger participants. The PPP program creates an opportunity for youth to begin at an earlier age. There is no minimum age limit. How early a youth starts shooting pistol depends on the youth’s ability to hold and shoot an air pistol safely as determined by an experienced pistol coach. Also, any person may compete in Progressive Position Pistol through age 20.

“Introduction, opportunity and development are critical success factors to enhancing our Olympic-style shooting program in the U.S.,” said USA Shooting’s National Pistol Coach Sergey Luzov. “The Progressive-Pistol Program can help stimulate interest and hopefully help drive more and more capable pistol athletes with greater ability and experience up the pipeline. Getting the pistol program where we want it to be requires an inclusive approach.”

Helping grow participation and excitement in PPP in recent years has been the creation of the PPP National Postal program, giving junior athletes an opportunity to participate in a postal (virtual match) competition three times per year (Fall, Winter and Spring), leading up to the Junior Olympic PPP Nationals. This program is designed to provide competitive experience and test skills practiced in between postal matches in preparation for the Nationals. The PPP National Postal Program offers clubs the opportunity to compete against each other without incurring travel costs and other fees. USAS has eliminated the need for registration, a USAS membership and registration fees to encourage greater involvement from clubs across the nation.

The Progressive Position Pistol Program is designed to ‘progressively’ develop junior pistol athletes from supported positions to the Olympic one-handed unsupported shooting. PPP gives the junior athlete the opportunity to focus on and learn the foundational pistol skills with the opportunity to participate in competitions. This develops confidence, skills and knowledge at an early age.

“I have been attending the PPP Nationals every year for the past several years,” said Assistant National Pistol Coach Russ Doucette. “Each year things seem to run better and better and the participation of all the athletes is just unbelievable. I love to see the young shooters, six and seven year olds, competing right alongside of a Junior Olympian. In all the years I’ve been attending this event, I have found the nicest kids, parents and coaches you would ever want to meet.”

“The PPP National Championship is the most exciting and rewarding experience my team has each year, said Kandi Smith, head coach for the Alabama-based Blocton Bullets. “They get to meet kids from all over the country and experience a top level match at an early age.”

The PPP match competition is a precision pistol event. Multi-shot pistols may be used, but only a single pellet may be loaded at any given moment. The pistols must be .177 caliber (4.5 mm), and use compressed air or compressed, non-flammable gas (such as CO2) for propellant.

There are three categories of competitors in the Progressive Position Pistol Program, defined by the shooting position used by the competitor. They include basic supported; standing supported and international (one-handed) standing.

Image courtesy USA Shooting

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