July 23, 2009 at 8:07 a.m.

Lindstrom's Danielle Groshens is one of the top junior female shooters in the state

Lindstrom's Danielle Groshens is one of the top junior female shooters in the state
Lindstrom's Danielle Groshens is one of the top junior female shooters in the state

Most girls who are going into their junior year in high school are focused on shopping, boys, school work or traditional sports like volleyball, soccer and tennis.

Chisago Lakes junior Danielle Groshens is focusing more on her skills with a gun.

Groshens recently won the National Rifle Association's four position junior championship in Minnesota. The competition was held in Hibbing at the Hibbing Rifle Club over the weekend of July 11-12.

Each shooter must perform their shots from four different positions. The positions include prone (laying down), off-hand (standing), sitting and kneeling. Groshens tallied a score of 1,495 out of 1,600. "I was really hoping she could break 1,500," said her dad and inspiration Joe Groshens. "But, I'm glad she won."

The title came in the precision class, which allows the shooters to use their full gear (pictured on the right) while they shoot. The suit, which is made almost totally of leather, helps stabilize the shooter and keep them in a stationary position for a long period of time. The shooters are also allowed more adjustments on their firearm in the precision class.

Danielle was armed with an Anschutz 1903 .22 caliber rifle to make her mark at the state championship. But, her Anschutz was not fitted with a high-tech scope like the older competitors use. In the junior class, scopes are not allowed. "They don't need scopes, their eyes are still good when they are young," her dad joked.

Danielle hit the dead-on bullseye in 28 of her 160 shots.

Finding her way around guns

Danielle was raised with firearms in her life. Joe is a firearm safety instructor as well as an avid hunter. However, Danielle said that her father never forced her interest in the sport. "Being raised around guns, I just decided 'That's what I want to do," she said.

From an early age, Joe said Danielle was naturally a pretty good shooter, and she has now infused her natural talent with hard work. She has been honing in her shot for the last four years at the Gopher Gun Club and it has helped develop her into one of the best youth shots in the state. "Each year, her scores have gradually gone up," Joe says. "And now that she's adding all the proper equipment, that's making a difference also."

With a sponsorship from the Legion Post 275 in Forest Lake, Danielle can make the long travel demands of the shooting circuit. Besides the state championship in Hibbing, she has been to competitions in Fergus Falls and Grand Rapids.

Currently, Danielle and five others from the Gopher Gun Club are spending time in Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio to test themselves against the best shooters in the nation.

Going into the camp, Danielle said she was ranked somewhere in the 300's nationally in her class (Neither Danielle, nor her dad, were exactly sure where she stood as of this writing). She was specifically hoping to be able to boost her status on a national level with the 11-day trip to Camp Perry. "I want to work on getting nationally ranked higher," she said. "But, I know I'm going to have to shoot better than I did in Hibbing to move up."

The traveling, though, is one of the perks that Danielle specifically enjoys and relishes. "There is a lot of different places to go for shooting," she said, naming Camp Perry and Fergus Falls as some of her favorite destinations.

Working hard at Gopher Gun Club

The work Danielle puts in during the each week keeps her sharp throughout the season. She practices twice weekly at the Gopher Gun Club for a total of about four hours a week.

The club is a perfect training spot for her because it's relatively close, and it boasts some impressive features. At 1,000 yards, it houses the longest shooting range in the state of Minnesota

The club was organized in the early 1940s in Anoka County, but after their land lease was up in 1970, the club transplanted to a 342 acre plot in Harris.

Among the luxuries for shooters are a multi purpose range with backstops at 50, 100, 150 and 200 meters, a shotgun trap range with an electric thrower in a target house, a 25 and 50 yard pistol range, a Blackpowder range with targets set at 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards and a Highpower range with target pits at 100, 200, 300, 600, 800, 900 and 1,000 yards.

The range also features about 100 acres of woods, 50 acres of swamps and ponds and another 50 acres of grassy fields which include a picnic and camping area. The range is open to members all year but the general public is only allowed access for the scheduled matches.

The club helped Danielle earn her Distinguished Expert Award from the NRA in May. It's the highest ranking that the NRA gives out to shooters, and it is awarded after keeping track of scores throughout the years and talling points for the highest marksmanship.

Scoping out the future

Looking at what lies ahead for a girl who isn't involved in a "traditional" sport, Danielle and Joe hope that her shooting acumen can be parlayed into a scholarship to a school that has a shooting club.

Many of the bigger schools, as well as private schools such as St. Thomas, have shooting clubs that represent the school at competitions.

Until her college decision comes, however, Groshens has two years to keep perfecting her shot and moving up in the national rankings.

Throughout her shooting career, she's always had her sights set on lofty goals. And if her foresight is anything like her shooting sight, those goals are going to be torn up and accomplished faster than a bullseye in her crosshairs.


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