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Teen shoots to score

March 10, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - Bryant Wallizer was 10 years old when he killed his first deer. Even before that, he had done some target shooting and knew that he enjoyed the sport and was pretty good at it too.

"My dad taught me all he knew," Wallizer said. "Now I'm better."

The Little Orleans, Md., teenager isn't idly boasting - he has been bringing home national shooting awards for years.

Now 17, Wallizer has several national competitions under his belt and is looking forward to returning to Colorado Springs in the spring for the 2005 events. If he does well there, he could qualify for the U.S. Olympics team.

But for now, he has his eye on the closer target out west.

"I've qualified again to compete in the junior competition this spring," Wallizer said.

In 2001, he competed in Annapolis and did so well he earned a berth at the national championships in Colorado.

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"I learned a lot that first year," he said, conceding that he didn't score very high that first time.

He went back in 2003 and again in 2004, when he took first place in the intermediate junior air rifle competition.

"There were two matches with 600 shots each," Wallizer said. Scoring a total of 1,167 out of a possible 2,000, Wallizer was ranked seventh overall last year.

Wallizer got his start at the Youth Hunter Education Challenge offered by an outdoor club in Cumberland, Md. "I was about 12 then and I learned small bore .22-caliber, muzzleloader, shotgun and archery," he said.

At the same time, Wallizer and the others in the program learned compass and mapwork so they would be proficient in all aspects of survival training.

By the age of 13, Wallizer joined the Antietam Junior Rifle Club, where he hooked up with Norris Diefenderfer as a coach. It was then that Wallizer began to concentrate on the Antietam club and on air rifle and small bore exclusively.

Wallizer and Diefenderfer train regularly at the Chambersburg (Pa.) Rod & Gun Club.

The oldest child and only son of Pat and Donna Wallizer, he is a senior at Hancock Middle- Senior High School and is considering a career in veterinary medicine.

"We're very proud of Bryant," said his mother, who teaches at Hancock. "He really enjoys working with Norris Diefenderfer, his shooting coach."

She also is proud of his attention to his studies and his 3.7 grade-point average.

Donna Wallizer said she believes her son has a fairly good chance to go to the Olympics in China. If he does, his father may accompany him.

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