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National Shooters descend on Palmyra Sportsmen’s Assoc. for annual invitational

North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County — The 21st Annual Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association Invitational concluded on Sunday afternoon.  With over 300 sh...

North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County -- The 21st Annual Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association Invitational concluded on Sunday afternoon.  With over 300 shooters of all ages participating, the six day event is the largest indoor air rifle and smallbore match of its kind in the United States. Shooters from twelve different states made the trek to Lebanon county as well as universities from Alaska and Georgia.

The Palmyra Invitational utilizes current technology to offer spectators live scoring results on monitors as well as real-time results on the internet which helps make this one of the premier events in the U.S.

Two of the many local participants were 13-year-old, Ziva Swick of Hershey Middle School and 16-year-old Claudia Weber of New Covenant Christian School.  For Claudia this competition is all about being locked in every time you pull the trigger.

"I am pretty competitive,  I would say my biggest competition is myself," said Weber. "And just improving each time (you shoot), so every time you take the shot, just be completely relaxed and do the same thing over, and over again having that offensive mindset. Hitting the center because there are a million other things you can be thinking about."

Coach and organizer Erin Gestl knows a thing or two about how to prepare a shooter, he coached Lebanon county native and 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Jamie Grey.

"Not pysching yourself out before a competition, and to be able to handle the pressure of a competition," says Gestl.  "To know that you are tied with someone and be able to still execute well."

That concentration must last a long time, as 60 shots are fired over the course of 75 minutes at a target that is half a millimeter across.