For Mary Pratt, being the only girl from Loganville High School on the air rifle team comes with some benefits, even for her male competitors.
“I believe that they try a little harder, and they will always want to shoot better than me,” the LHS freshman said. “I think the fact that we are all competitive, will result in more determination among the team to get better.”
She did confess, though, that being the only female cadet in the school does have its drawbacks.
“I do get a little lonely not having another girl to talk to,” Mary Pratt said.
She is currently a member of the Marksmanship Team for the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp based out of Monroe Area High School. There are two other girls on the team, which is fed from MAHS, LHS and Walnut Grove High School. Mary Pratt competed in the Junior Olympic State Championship for Women’s 10m Air Rifle – an international Olympic shooting sport – in Griffin Georgia on Jan. 11, 2013. She came out of the match with 3rd place overall and received an invitation to compete at the Junior Olympic National Championship in Colorado Springs, CO.
Her mother, Jennifer Pratt, said she started her daughter in Competition BB through the Walton County 4H when Mary was in fifth grade.
“She attended two national BB matches - one in 2010 and one in 2012, and is ranked 9th in the state for that discipline,” Jennifer Pratt said. “And she competed in two National Air Rifle matches in June and July 2012 (the NRA Junior Air Gun Championship and the Daisy National Air Gun Championship).”
Her mother said Mary Pratt will be attending two more Junior National Matches “Her AFJROTC team qualified for their Nationals which will take place February 14-16th , they are the only Precision Air Rifle Team from GA and the East Coast attending that match - they placed 2nd in the qualifiers,” Jennifer Pratt said. “She also will be representing the State of Georgia in the US Army Junior Nationals, February 25-28th. Then of course in April the Junior Olympics.”
Mary Pratt said she first got involved in the sport when her mother asked whether she was interested in joining the 4H.
“When we started looking at programs we saw they had a Shooting Sports Program. In that program they had different disciplines (BB, Shotgun, .22 Rifle), since they were age level restricted I decided on BB,” she said, adding she enjoyed the fact that it is a family-oriented activity. “I liked BB because my whole family was involved, my mom in the scoring room, my dad as my line coach, and my brother who shoots BB also was a spectator. Being able to shoot a target from 33 feet away with the center the size of a pin it takes concentration and a when you have 40 or 60 shot depending on the match it is a great accomplishment. It takes a lot of practice and anyone of all ages can compete.”
Jennifer Pratt said Mary has two other teammates who stand a good chance of joining her daughter in the state championships.
“While they did not automatically qualify like Mary, they did have scores that could get them invited once the qualified competitors have been added to the invitation list. Once all the qualified competitors are done they will send out invitations to the “At Large” competitors. So her teammates have a really good chance of going as well,” Jennifer Pratt said. “ If that happens, Walton County will have three Precision shooters going to the Junior Olympics from one team. The scores have to be reported to USA Shooting by 1/25/13, and then they will post the qualified (or invitation) list. This same team also placed 2nd in the Air Force JROTC National Qualifier, they will be competing at the Air Force JROTC Nationals on Feb 15-16, they are currently the only Precision Air Rifle team on the East Coast. In addition to this match, Mary and teammate Matthew Waters are representing Georgia at the US Army Junior Nationals to be held Feb 25-28 at Fort Benning, GA.”
Margaret “Maggie” Mason joins Matthew Waters as the other member who stands a good chance of competing in Junior Olympic National Championship in Colorado Springs, CO.
As for Mary Pratt, she has her eye on a bigger target. Her goal is to one day shoot for Team USA.