In just a few years, Columbus High's Marissa Furney transformed from a girl with a hobby into a bona fide riflery star.
Furney, who has signed a scholarship to shoot at Columbus State, averaged 289.14 (out of 300) per match and finished third at the state competition with a 291.4. Her season average was more than four points better than the area's No. 2 shooter, teammate Marvin Lewis.
For her efforts, she has been named the All-Bi-City shooter of the year.
Her coach Frank Tuggle said it's impressive how much Furney, who has been shooting for just over four years, has grown as a shooter in such a short time.
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"She grew in leaps and bounds this year," Tuggle said. "She started out as a rookie shooter when she came in. She increased her
overall average from 240 to 289 over a two-year span, which is almost unheard of. She's just improved so much."
Tuggle said the time she put in made a huge difference in her success.
"She would shoot at school in the morning and continued to shoot outside of school," he said. "The time she put into it had a great impact on her overall score. It's repetition. She kept shooting above and beyond the average shooter."
In addition to her bronze medal at the state championships, the highlight for Furney over the past year was perhaps her win at the JROTC national championships.
Her national win was a massive improvement over her 38th-place finish in her first year.
"She went back this year and just made an incredible improvement," Tuggle said. "It's just a testament to the time she's put into it."
"It's not bad, considering when I first started I had never held a gun," Furney said when she signed her college scholarship. "They had to teach me everything."
At Columbus State, Furney will learn under Jamie Gray, an assistant coach who won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. Furney said that was a goal for her, as well.
Tuggle thinks anything is possible.
"I told her the sky is the limit," he said. "Just get (to Columbus State) and do what you're doing. Nothing is going to be given to you. You just have to go out there and get it."
Coach of the year
The Patriots riflery team, led by Richard Brewer, put together a perfect area record, averaging 1,124.30 points per match en route to a second-place finish at the area meet and a fourth-place finish at state.
As a result, Brewer has been named the All-Bi-City coach of the year.
The Patriots won three consecutive state championships from 2005-07. Though their title drought extended to six seasons this year, they proved again to be among the best programs in the state.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.