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Smithsburg girl guns for national title

April 15, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Smithsburg resident Demi Jacques competed recently in the National Rifle and Pistol Junior Olympics in Colorado.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG — Demi Jacques was 11 years old when she saw her future through the crosshairs of a rifle.

She was going to be a competitive shooter.

Relaxing with her family at a cabin in West Virginia, the young girl had joined her father, who is a hunter, in target practice.

She hadn’t expected to enjoy it as much as she did.

And she was pretty good — good enough that her parents decided to explore training opportunities.

They found it with the Antietam Junior Rifle Club in Hagerstown, where Demi learned the basics, then continued to hone her skills.

A year later, Demi was gunning for titles.

At the age of 18, the Smithsburg High School senior said she hasn’t blazed any trails for females interested in rifle shooting. There have been a number of young women who have been members of the local rifle group, “Although,” she said, “there tend to be more boys.”

But it’s not about male or female, she said. It’s about the steadiest hand, the sharpest eye and the calmest mind.

Over the years, Demi has excelled in those areas, bringing home medals and trophies in both air rifle and small bore (.22 caliber) competitions.

Recently, her top skills earned her an invitation to compete in the 2011 National Rifle and Pistol Junior Olympic Championships.

The event was held the last week of March at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Demi said she had medaled at the Maryland State Junior Olympics and received the invitation to go to the national event, which included one day of training and a day of matches.

“I did all right,” Demi said. “But we underestimated the power of altitude sickness.”

Demi said the high altitude didn’t affect the technical part of the competition “but the air was dry and if you’re not used to the altitude, you can get headaches. Rifle shooting is very draining. You have to hold your position. So any physical problem doesn’t help.”

But the experience of competing on a national level was something she’ll never forget, she said.

“It was a great opportunity and quite an honor. I hope I’ll be back in Colorado next year,” she said. “And, this time around, I’ll know what to expect.”

While many of her friends are involved in soccer or basketball, Demi said she had no qualms about taking up rifle shooting.

“It always was a unique sport,” she said.

And she stresses that it is a sport.

“I don’t go out and shoot living things, which is what many people think when they hear rifles and shooting,” she said. “I don’t want to do that.”

When she graduates this year, Demi will head to Morehead State University in Kentucky, where she will be on the collegiate rifle team.

She received partial academic and rifle scholarships, she said. Her major is undecided but her interests are in sociology with a concentration in criminology, speech therapy and a minor or second major in theater.  

At Smithsburg High School, Demi said she is active in the show choir and drama group and recently received a Good Citizenship Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution. She also enjoys showing horses and kayaking with her family.

But rifle shooting is never far from her thoughts.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “And I’ve made a lot of friendships with people from all over.

“Even after college, I see myself being involved in competitive rifle shooting,” Demi said. “And, maybe, some day, I’ll be teaching my kids to follow in my footsteps.”

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