Both Shelby Huber (Northside) and Veronica Leggett (Columbus) had already established themselves as qualified shooters during the 2014 rifle season, where the former was named first-team All-Bi-City and the latter second team.
Leggett had begun to average around 280 by the end of last season and was hoping for an improvement on her scoring average this year. But when she opened the season, she was back into the 270s and had to make adjustments to reclaim the progress she had made a year ago.
She did that, and more.
By the end of the year, she was consistently into the 290s. She shot a perfect 300 in a sectional match and tied a state record of 296 in the individual qualifying round. She took second place overall at the state rifle championship at Fort Benning.
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Normally, that would be enough to win shooter of the year going away.
Instead, Huber led Area 1 in regular season average, helped Northside to the GHSA state championship and was selected to the All-State rifle team.
For both of their efforts, they were named All-Bi-City co-shooters of the year. Northside coach retired Lt. Col. Richard Brewer was awarded All-Bi-City coach of the year for leading the Patriots to the title.
“I’ve improved a lot this year,” Leggett said. “I came into this year shooting 270s again, but I worked my way up to consistently 290s, and that’s fantastic. Just seeing that I can improve that much in that span of time is really encouraging.”
She attributed her improvement to — of course — the time she spent practicing her craft. Because it is an individual sport, she said, it’s important to find out what works best for yourself.
“You have to practice as much as you can and experiment with as many positions and minute little differences to find out what is the most comfortable,” she said.
Huber’s accomplishments were more than just winning state. He also qualified for and competed at the National Junior Olympics, placing among the nation’s top 33 shooters. He said that was probably his most memorable moment from the year, and he, too, attributed it to the time he spent training.
“Just putting in the hours and making your practice — something,” he said. “Don’t just go out and shoot. You have to make it a valuable practice, that you go out and learn from it.”
Both are juniors and will return next year with even higher goals.
Leggett can’t top her 300 from this season, so she said she’d just like to match it again. More than that, she wants the big prize — a state championship.
“I was second this year, but I’d really, really like to win,” she said.
Brewer did add another championship to his resume, the fourth Northside has won since 2005.
It was the Patriots’ first since 2007.