CMC running-target shooting club one week from Nationals |

CMC running-target shooting club one week from Nationals

— Colorado Mountain College running-target shooting coach Alex Krolik told his team members a little white lie Sunday.

Timo Kaempfen, Danil Sulimov, Wyatt Cave, Dalton Burke and Marshall Henry — the first-year club’s members — were under the impression they were competing Sunday for qualifying scores for next week’s U.S. Running Target National Championships in Amarillo, Texas.

Truth is, Burke, Henry, Cave and Krolik were already Amarillo-bound, but the coach wanted to put a little pressure on his shooters in advance.

The running-target shooting club is winding down its inaugural year on CMC’s Alpine campus, and with a little recruiting during Krolik’s math classes, the team is starting to take some shape.

“We even have a female athlete who couldn’t come to today’s practice, but she’ll be back next year and we’ll recruit more students,” Krolik said. “Hopefully we’ll grow more.”

In the fall, Krolik — a Belarus native who has competed in running-target air-rifle shooting for 22 years — launched the club with little interest and even less equipment. Seven months later, he’s got a full-enough squad that gets to compete with five air rifles, three working moving targets and a full set of pricey competitive jackets.

“The biggest are those three running-target machines,” said Krolik, who had to drive 30 hours round trip to California last year to retrieve one of them.

On Sunday, the team members’ skills were put to test using both slow-moving targets and fast-moving targets, where a sheet of paper a little bigger than the size of index cards shifts from left to right, each sporting two targets for which the shooters aim. Their scores are added up after each of their rounds are complete for a total score in each event. A perfect score is 600.

“It’s a combination of everything to be good at it,” said Burke, who is the team’s top junior. “You’re just the conductor. When you’re training, you’re teaching each of your little instruments how to play well. During shooting, you’re just the conductor with the stick.”

Burke, like nearly everyone in the United States, was foreign to the sport as a whole prior to this school year. In fact, he had zero experience operating a firearm of any sort, particularly the technical air rifles used in running-target shooting.

Though Krolik has decades of experience, Henry explains that it’s a sport that can be self-taught with the right tools and dedication. Burke said he practices for roughly 12 hours a week.

“You’re kind of teaching yourself,” Henry said. “Alex gives you pointers in practice, but usually you’re figuring it out as you go. Everyone’s form is different. You just have to find out what you’re comfortable with.”

Krolik dreams of having running target back in the Olympic games, eyeing a 2020 Summer Games push. But for now, Amarillo is a more realistic, short-term venture.

The three team members and Krolik will leave Sunday from Steamboat Springs and stop in Colorado Springs to tour the U.S. Olympic Shooting Center and meet with the national coaches. On Tuesday, they’ll compete in 10-meter shooting competitions in Texas, followed by Wednesday’s 50-meter range.

“The guy running it in Texas wants to spread it out over a few days so we can get as many people as possible,” Krolik said. “We’ll see how we do. They could come back with national titles. I think Dalton is pretty good and could come back with a junior title.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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