Kutztown High senior Amy Fister signed her letter of intent Nov. 16 amid family, friends, faculty, and T.V. cameras in Kutztown High School’s library, achieving a first for Kutztown.
Fister was offered a scholarship to the University of Memphis in exchange for her marksmanship skills on its rifle team.
According to Mic O’Neil, athletic director, while there have been scholarships offered to students in athletics, this is the first time for someone from the rifle program, which historically is one of the highest participated groups out of the athletic programs with 20 to 25 members.
Kutztown High School Principal Rebecca Beidelman said Kutztown is one of the few schools around that still has a rifle team.
“I’m proud of them because it’s not as simple as it looks,” said Beidelman. “It takes a steady arm and a good eye. It takes a lot of concentration, it takes a lot of practice, and there’s a lot of focus involved.”
“The hardest thing is practicing and keeping my grades up,” said Fister. “When I shoot, I have to get in a certain zone where you just completely blank out everything else. You can’t think about your homework that you have to do. You only focus on one shot at a time.”
Beidelman said Fister has competed nationally and for a little school like Kutztown to have Fister, there is quite a feather in their cap. Fister even tried for the Olympic trials.
Fister is also a member of the Ontelaunee Junior Rifle Team where her Dad, Tom, is assistant coach. He thinks the program teaches the kids discipline and commitment and follows through into their school work. The Ontelaunee program is the next level to the more advanced in the school and competes in all the matches around the country as well as international.
“The kids that come through our programs are the best in their classes. They’re top students in their community plus we teach them more than shooting,” said Jeffery Derr, head coach for the Ontelaunee Junior Rifle Team. “We do the other aspects about life and how to treat other people.”
At the age of 14, Fister wanted to shoot because her sister, Valerie, now 20, was hunting and competing. According to her mother, Michele, while Valerie had a natural ability to shoot, Amy had to work at it really hard.
“It’s this thing called natural point of aim,” said Valerie. “It’s just the way that you lay. It’s the way that the gun forms to your body. It’s very difficult; it really is.”
Valerie said she really had to work for it by practicing a lot. She said her father would have them lay on the floor with the rifle while watching television to help them achieve their natural point of aim.
“In every position, there’s a natural point of aim,” said Michele. “There are three positions; there’s the prone, standing and kneeling.”
Valerie and her mother said for those interested in learning more, they could go to their closest gun club that has a junior rifle team. It is where Amy found her mark with a long list of shooting achievements that has opened the door for a college education. The most recent on a list provided by her father, was the PA State Prone Championship: 2nd Expert and State Woman Champion, and the NRA Smallbore Nationals in Camp Perry, Ohio where after winning numerous matches in the Expert Class both in 3P and Prone, qualified for the Drew Cup Team, PA State 3P Gold Team, Randle Team, and won the Mentor Match.
To learn more about the Ontelaunee Rod and Gun Club, go to http://www.ontelaunee.org/.