Matt Schuster is proof that firearms and teenagers are not oil and water - they can mix well, just by stirring in proper training, support, and coaching.
Schuster, a 17-year-old junior at Northview High School, is well on his way to becoming an expert rifleman. And he is doing so using finely made, match-grade, high-power, semi-automatic, military-style rifles that too often are casually referred to publicly as “assault weapons.”
A week ago in the regional high-power championships at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio, Matt fired his way to second-place in the sharpshooter class and then shot as one of four members on the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association's Gold Team which took first place.
On Memorial Day he fired in the open “excellence-in-competition” event of the national Civilian Marksmanship Program. His score, 469 out of a possible 500 with 11 dead-center bull's-eyes, placed him eighth among 112 shooters and earned him qualification points toward the coveted Distinguished Rifleman's Badge.
In the CMP competition, Schuster scored 97 out of 100 in the 600-yard competition, firing with open sights at a 12-inch bull's-eye.
“Needless to say, dad didn't do as well,” said Rich Schuster, who introduced his son to shooting and duck hunting some years ago. Rich and his wife, Karen, have been highly supportive of Matt's interest in competitive target shooting. At times, Rich has set aside his own competitive shooting just to devote all his energy on Matt's craft.
“There is a lot of bad press out there about youths and guns and shooting. This is a positive example,” asserted Rich about his experience with educating his son in the rifleman's art.
Matt has devoted himself to target shooting - and computers - in lieu of other extracurricular high school activities. He currently is preparing to compete in the National Rifle and Pistol Matches at Camp Perry, the high-power rifle portion of which is conducted in August.
“I'd like to be classified as a master or high master and be distinguished while I'm still a junior (age 20 or younger),” Matt said.
For most events, he shoots a custom AR-15 .223 rifle built by Frank White, of Compass Lake Engineering in Florida. The rifle weighs 17 pounds.
“The outward appearance must be the same as the military M-16 rifle to qualify as a service rifle for competition,” said Rich. Matt's long-range rifle, for 1,000-yard events, is a match-grade M-14 .308.
Schuster, who is reigning high-junior state champion, also recently won the Ohio high-junior service-rifle championship with a score of 459X500, with nine center bull's-eyes. On the same weekend he joined in the team competition, leading the way to first place with 468X500 and 11 bull's-eyes.
He also won first place last winter in the Toledo Area High-Power League, which holds 16 outdoors matches during the winter.
“The only match cancelled this winter was because the snow was blowing so hard we couldn't see the targets,” Rich said.
Among other accomplishments, Matt is an NRA-certified apprentice rifle instructor. When not training or competing for high-power rifle, he shoots smallbore or .22 rifle indoors at Southern Michigan Sportmen's Club.
Women will be able to shoot for free, and shotguns and instruction will be provided for shooters who do not have a shotgun. The shoot begins at 1 p.m.
Call Frank Schaffer at 691-2769 to register.
Wolf Creek also has scheduled a youth trapshooting day June 23 at 1 p.m., for shooters ages 16 and under. They also may shoot free, and shotguns will be provided. Call to register.
Ohio residents may fish anywhere statewide today without a license. A youth fishing derby is today, 8 to 11 a.m., at Shoreline Park in Sandusky. Call Erie Metroparks, 419-625-7783.
East Harbor State Park, east of Port Clinton on Marblehead peninsula, has planned a fishing event for Thursday. Call the park for details, 419-734-4424.
A fishing festival is set for Saturday , 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Maumee Bay State Park. Call Ohio Wildlife District 2, Findlay, for details, 419-424-5000.
Ohio ranks 11th nationally with 1.3 million anglers. Three of four Ohio boaters also fish, and half of all boating time is related to fishing. More than half of Ohio's fishing public fishes on Lake Erie. A survey shows that 85 percent of Ohioans have fished at some time.
Ohio. Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington are participating in a five-year pilot project under the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation to promote boating and fishing.