First CMP Paralympic Air Rifle Shooter Recalls 2018 3P Competitive Season
Back in June, Moira Antal, 14, of Bealeton, Va., helped make history. She became the first Paralympic air rifle shooter to compete at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Three-Position Air Rifle National Championship, at Camp Perry, Ohio.
“It’s very fun,” speaking of competing in air rifle. “It’s calming. When I shoot, I zone out and let my mind run off wherever it wants, and I just shoot – that’s it.”
Moira has arthrogryposis, a congenital joint contracture that has affected her since birth. She’s also missing two major muscle groups, a bicep and quadricep on her left side, and through the years has additionally developed arthritis, with 10 surgeries to date.
“Her doctor said she would never walk, but here she is,” explained her mother, Wendy. “She doesn’t like to be told, ‘No.’”
2018 was Moira’s first traveling and competing in marksmanship. She joined the sport about two years ago and even becoming qualified as an NRA coach for other Paralympic air rifle shooters. During this initial test of real air rifle competition, Moira competed in the first-ever Junior Paralympics in Colorado Springs back in April. She was hand-picked as one of three Paralympic air rifle shooters to participate in the event.
And, from that trip, she brought home some hardware – one silver and one bronze medal.
She went on to compete in the Virginia Junior Olympic 3PAR State Championship before qualifying for the CMP National Championship in the summer of 2018.
“It’s been a blessing being able to compete at Camp Perry in her first year as a Paralympic air rifle shooter,” Wendy said.
Along with setting a first in the range, the trip was also a first for Moira, who had never before been to Camp Perry. She was accompanied by her coach, Matt, as well as Wendy, who evidently walked into a whirlwind of nostalgia as she passed by the buildings on post.
This wasn’t Wendy’s first trip to Camp Perry. She has a background as a talented highpower competitor, having grown up competing at Camp Perry every year.
Moira, the next generation of a growing competitive shooting family, first held a rifle when she was around 4 years old. It was an air rifle, since it didn’t have the recoil of some of the more powerful firearms. She showed talent from that first encounter, firing at balloons and hitting nearly every one.
Moira’s Grandfather was the president of the Izaak Walton League shooting range near their hometown. He, along with Wendy, was an integral force in getting her involved in the sport, watching her shoot at the range every year when open shooting was offered.
“They both showed me air rifle and different types of shooting,” Moira said. “I really liked it from the first time I shot it.”
Moira’s Grandfather was aware of her physical challenges, but it didn’t slow him from teaching her the sport. The way he described it to her – even through they’re very different, physically, they can still shoot together and be on the same level.
“That’s why I love air rifle shooting – because it’s an equal-opportunity sport,” said Moira.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how this opens the door for other adaptive athletes,” Wendy said. “Being a Paralympic air rifle shooter been a beautiful experience. We’ve really enjoyed it.”
Moira encourages others to join in as a Paralympic air rifle shooter, urging plenty of education before jumping into the complex sport.
“Try it before judging it,” she said. “Do some research. It’s rewarding. It’s just nice.”
To find out more on Paralympic Shooting opportunities, including its history and current classifications, visit the USA Shooting website at http://www.usashooting.org/about/paralympicshooting.