Gross shoots, scores a win

Colt Gross, a senior at North Augusta High School, has strengthened his claim as one of the country's top teen-marksmen.

Taking part over the weekend in the 2013 Navy Nationals Air Rifle Championship, Gross bagged first place in the precision category, securing a prize that had barely eluded him in 2011 and 2012.

"I think I'm more excited about not getting second place for the third year in a row," said Gross, a member of the high school's Naval Junior ROTC unit. His parents are Carolyn Cates and Thomas Gross.

The new champion's performance helped lift North Augusta's team - Gross, Eric Clubb, Joe Carr and Jake Weisert - to an eighth-place finish overall.

The competitors' challenges included 60 shots on Friday and 60 on Saturday. From that, the top eight performers had 10 more in the finals, also held Saturday.

The competition, held in Anniston, Ala., had competitors firing from standing, kneeling and prone positions.

Gross said the first day's data put him in second place, trailing the leader by one point, having scored 588 out of a possible 600. Saturday's first round had Gross shoot a 589, which put him nine points ahead of the former leader. In the finals, Gross scored 99.2 out of a possible 109, securing the win through his scoring on 10 shots.

Gross, captain of the high school's rifle team is "already enlisted in the Navy," he noted, and has plans to report Aug. 14 for boot camp, in the Chicago area.

David Myers, who retired in 2012 after service as the leader of the high school's NJROTC unit, recalled, "He competed in the national championships as a freshman ... and finished 29th, and then he finished second two years in a row, and finally won it."

He noted that Gross is currently ranked fourth in the country among air-rifle shooters in the junior (18 or younger) category. Gross is to compete again in March at the All Services National Championship, testing himself against winners from the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps championships, which were also held this month.