The rising Creekview sophomore traveled to compete in both the 2014 National 3 Position Air Rifle (3PAR) Championship and the 3PAR Junior Olympic Championships as a precision individual. Both events were held at the end of June.
Marble, 14, was the youngest person from a Cherokee County school to qualify for the Junior Olympics, which featured some of the top air rifle shooters in the nation.
In the 3PAR Junior Olympic Championship, Marble ranked 191st of 221 shooters. In the National 3PAR Championship, he ranked 152nd of 221 shooters.
Marble said there wasn’t much difference between competing in a local event and a national one, as far as the format is concerned. It was the competition that made the difference.
“It’s a lot like shooting anywhere else, but the competition is a lot harder,” Marble said. “Everyone that you are going against is much better than you are used to going against. They only take the top 5 percent of shooters in the U.S.”
In 3PAR, shooters take aim at targets from three different stationary positions, as the name suggests. Competitors shoot from a prone position, with the body lying flat with the chest down, standing, in which a shooter is unsupported, and kneeling, when the individual places one knee on the ground.
Marble said kneeling is the most challenging position for him, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
“Most people think the easiest one is prone and, generally, the hardest is standing,” he said. “For me, it’s actually kneeling.”
Competitors take aim at a small target 10 meters away. The entire target is less than 2 inches in diameter, with the bull’s-eye being just a fraction of that. Most competitors, including Marble, use iron sights — or an open, unmagnified system — to assist in aiming.
The Junior Olympics were held at just one of two locations in the country that use an electronic scoring system. This not only allows competitors to track their score and the score of others, but it also makes it easier for spectators to track how the shooters are doing.
“You have a monitor that is next to you that will display what you shot,” Marble said. “It’s not a sheet of paper you are shooting at. It’s much easier for the competitor.”
Spectators are able to see how what mark each shooter scores from a view area, or they can follow the action online in real time.
Marble, who competes as a member of the Creekview rifle team and a member of the Cherokee County 4-H Youth Shooting Sports Air Rifle team, began in the sport when he was 5 or 6 years old after watching his father, Evan. Lee Marble then began shooting competitively when he was the fifth grade and joined the 4-H BB team.
Marble was a member of that team until he completed eighth grade and graduated to the air rifle team through 4-H. It was at that time that Marble also tried out for the team at Creekview.
When he has the opportunity to do so, Marble also competes with his father in reduced matches with an AR-15 at River Bend Gun Club.
He is coached by Bobby Rogers through 4-H, and Col. James “Chip” Holly at Creekview.
In order to qualify for the national competition in Ohio, Marble had to get through a qualifying round at the University of North Georgia. Needing a qualifying score of 580 to make the Junior Olympics, Marble scored 581.
Marble would like to return to the Junior Olympics in the future, but he knows it won’t be easy. He’s also considered pursuing a college scholarship, but most of the riflery programs are part of military schools, and he isn’t sure he wants to follow that path.
Kathy Marble said her son is very modest about his accomplishments.
“He would like to compete at the college level, but there aren’t many schools that have male shooting teams,” she said. “Most of them are military schools. We think he could do it if he wanted.”