Right decision makes champion | Sports | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | August 19, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: August 16, 2017 at 11:14 am
A decision made years ago played an elemental role in making a Bamberg teenager a national champion.
Alexander Ahlin, 15, of Bamberg, was recently selected to the U.S. National Open Men’s Shotgun Team.
Ahlin started in the South Carolina 4-H youth shooting program with the Mid Carolina Gun Club youth shooting team when he was 8 years old.
“I remember pulling up to Mid-Carolina gun club during one of their practices and seeing this small kid on the range,” says S.C. 4-H Shooting Sports Director Rick Willey.
“I called the head coach over, South Caroliina SCTP State Advisor Bernie Till, and informed him that he looked too young and too small for shotgun.” (The 4-H has a recommended age of 10 years old for shotgun shooting.)
Till suggested Willey watch Ahlin for a while before making his decision. After watching him shoot, with a 4-H certified instructor alongside of course, Willey became comfortable with what he observed.
Alex had such a pleasant demeanor and a very conscience understanding of gun safety that Willey’s concerns faded away.
“I often wonder what would have happened had I removed Alex from shooting a shotgun on that day. I suspect he would not be where he is now,” says Willey.
“Shotguns are not for every 8-year-old, which is why we have the recommended age of 10, but every now again, a special case comes along,” Willey said. “Alex Ahlin definitely fit this mold.”
Ahlin competed in the U.S. National Shotgun Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., in mid-July.
He broke 244 of 250 targets in the qualification rounds which advanced him to the men’s open finals.
At the end of the open finals, third place was still in a tie and the two contestants went to a shoot off. After his competitor’s first miss on station 5, Ahlin closed the door by breaking both targets and clinching third place.
Ahlin is one of the youngest competitors to make the national open team and will represent the USA in future competitions in international skeet.
Ahlin begins his sophomore year at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School soon. He shoots and trains at Mid Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg.
“I am not surprised by Alex’s success. He is a true competitor and has worked very hard to achieve this milestone,” Willey said.
“His demeanor hasn’t changed since that day I first met him seven years ago. I couldn’t be more proud of Alex. Just as he did in 4-H, he will represent the USA very well both on and off the field,” Willey added.