The Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match (Daisy Nationals) held in Rogers, Ark., brings teams of youth BB Gun shooters together every summer to compete for the National Championship. This 5-meter, four-position match awards 100 possible points for each position – Standing, Kneeling, Sitting and Prone – plus another 100 for the results of the written gun safety/rules test – so 500 is a perfect score.
The Daisy Nationals names National Champions for Teams and Individuals. This year, one individual set a new Individual Aggregate high-score record with a score of 494 – just six points away from perfect! This score represents a new NRA National Record, beating the current record by two points.
Think about that accuracy. You get 10 shots at a target in each of the four positions; each shot worth up to 10 points. Think about hitting the tiny bullseye almost every time. Can you do that?
Zoe Dissing can. She shoots better than you.
She’s 16 (15 during the match). The South Dakota native scored 100 percent on the written test, and just missed the bull six times during her 40 shots at target.
Youth in this match are ages 8-15, and Zoe’s been shooting since she was seven.
“I pushed myself to have a good final year,” she said, “but I never really saw myself actually winning the Nationals or setting a new record. When I was told I had the new record, it was the most crazy and surreal feeling.”
Competitive BB Gun shooting is a family event. Each shooter has a coach with them constantly, even at the shooting line, to give advice and load the competitor’s Daisy Model 499B BB gun. Normally the coach is one of the youth’s parents.
Zoe’s coach is her dad, Eric. He said that Zoe was very focused and determined at the firing line, and managed to maintain a calm demeanor through all three days of competition. “I just tried to keep all of them relaxed and focused on one shot at a time.”
After Zoe finished her shooting, Eric was coaching her younger sister, Ema, when his phone started buzzing in his pocket. He knew that Zoe shot lights out, but hadn’t checked the scores. He continued coaching as the other Humboldt coaches kept calling to congratulate Zoe. He had no idea that she had placed Second in Standing (with her personal best score in that position), Second in Kneeling, and First Aggregate Overall, or that she set a new National Record.
“In her final match of her BB Gun career, by the grace of Jesus and Mary, she earned the title of National Champion and became the new NRA National Record holder,” he said with undeniable fatherly pride.
Zoe said her main hope going into her last BB competition was for the team to do well. She knew that this year’s team was very strong, as evidenced by its Second Place finish.
For Zoe, by her own admittance, shooting comes natural and she didn’t put in many extra hours over or above the required once- or twice-a-week practices. She said the structure of the practices are geared to one of the most important aspects of competitive shooting – taking each shot one shot at a time. Like a baseball pitcher, missing the strike zone on one pitch cannot affect the next.
Zoe is not the first Dissing to see success in competitive shooting. Older siblings Eli and Mya also shot competitively, and her younger sister Ema competed in her first Daisy Nationals this year. She placed First in the Prone position with a perfect score and nine bullseyes, an incredible achievement for her first National Championship.
“We got started in this when our son, Eli, brought home a flyer from the Humboldt Sharpshooters,” Eric said. “I liked the concept of him learning safety, gun-handling confidence and marksmanship. He’d tried other sports but none of them really ‘fit’ him.”
Eric found that this sport teaches more than that.
“This sport teaches self-discipline, responsibility, self-control, goal-setting, concentration, focus and sportsmanship skills that will last a lifetime.”
Plus, since a parent goes through all aspects of shooting practice and competition with the youth, it builds strong bonds as the two work toward a goal. Eric said that it created an opportunity unlike any other sport he had ever been a part of to connect and bond with his kids.
For Zoe, since she has aged out of BB competition, her focus will be on the next step in shooting competition – airgun – as well as serving as a Future Farmers of America officer for her school’s FFA chapter.
“I want to thank my dad for coaching me all the way through by BB Gun career and learning with me as I progressed. I also want to thank my siblings for teaching my dad how to become a better coach,” she said with a grin. “I want to thank my mom for giving countless hours to help our team study (for the written test). Last, I want to thank my team for being so supportive of each other throughout the years, and becoming some of the best people to grow up with. And, ultimately, God, for His blessing!”