and 3-P smallbore.
and 3-P smallbore ... and 3-P smallbore ... and 3-P smallbore.
Not that this is the only determination, but in all reality there are THOUSANDS of 3-P air shooters in the high schools ... it does not automatically translate to 3-P smallbore ... the SB guns are different, heavier, and on top of all that, the recoil is VERY noticable. There are relatively VERY few smallbore shooters in the high schools ... most shooters that go and shoot in college (with some exceptions) come out of the clubs that can offer the smallbore experience ... If you are an air shooter in HS, finad a smallbore club (or start one!) in your area.
I'd like to add that in the order of priority (I think):
1) Does the institution have the or acceptable undergrad program for what the shooter wants to do in "real" life". In terms of the Service Academies, I look at these as primarily "Leadership" schools ... yes, you will gain a degree in an academic program, but you gain much more in the ability to lead people.
2) Grades high (as JG mentioned) and very good ACT/SAT scores. Take them as early and often as you can. I don't think starting as a sophomore in HS is too early with that and the eligibility center.
My daughters registered with the eligibility center in or before the9th grade ... then kept up the information there and made sure their coursework was acceptable to the NCAA (they were home schooled, so this was VERY important).
A collegiate coach is VERY limited with those 3.6 (I believe it's per institition, not per team) scholarships, they just ARE NOT willing to give any money out to someone who has questionable grades ... a shooter who is academically ineligible to shoot is of no use to them (and that money is tied up for 4 years in most cases ... i.e. cannot be used by another athlete) Grades, Grades, Grades.
Most times when you are able to chat with a coach, that is the FIRST question they will ask you, "How are your grades?"
3) While the coaches cannot officially talk with you ... about their program ... it is very acceptable to go up and (confidently - no mumbles) introduce yourself to them and get on their radar. My oldest daughter introduced herself to the (current) AF coach (when Launi was at Nebraska) when she was in 8th grade. For years after that, she was known to the coach as "the bucket girl" as her offhand stand at that time was made from an orange Home Depot bucket. Believe me, if they have a name, and a good first impression, they will keep an eye on you and your progress w/o another word.
4) NCAA shoots "International Style" events. SHOOT INTERNATIONAL STYLE EVENTS
60 shot standing Air Rifle
3x20 (KPS) 3-P Smallbore
Shoot those .... not just 3-P air.
At our state JO (USAS) qualifiers I allow the gals to shoot 60 shot Air with the guys ... and then report only the 1st 40 to USAS. I don't know of any state match director that would deny you this. Then you have actual, for sure, in a match 60 shot Air results you can put on your shooting resume.
ASK, the match director if he would send the results to some of the collegiate coaches. along with the year in HS that the shooters are. (Advanced planning for the coaches in recruiting is also helpful)
Great matches to shoot in ( from the junior USAS/Season perspective)
1) Get ready
for the JO Qualifiers ... basically when school starts
2) JO Qualifiers
Dec thru Jan in the States ... An open event (anyone can enter) look up your date and get in contact with the match director ... usually in mid-October)
3) Winter Airgun
... An open event - three days run like or as a Trials/Selection match
4) Rocky Mountain Rifle
in Colorado Springs in late Jan or early Feb - open event. Most of the collegiates in the off Olympic years are not there ... Many International shooters are, great way to learn. This is both a smallbore and air match. A superb Junior match
... if you practiced hard and have been invited
- smallbore and air ... the more of these you make in JrHigh & HighSchool the better ... it's not easy, those who are there are some of the best juniors in the nation in the Olympic events.
6) USAS Nationals
... an open event in late June/early July... US shooters across the board - juniors, collegiates, seniors and our National team members. If you want to get good large match pressure, this is the week.
- a smallbore prone event started by Lones Wigger at the NRA Whittington center, usually over the July 4th weekend. Many national level shooters are here along with lots of juniors. Networking with the shooters and learning about wind are the highlites of this event.
--- Preliminary TryOuts --- basically USAS Sanctioned matches. All year round. We are very lucky here in NM we can easily make the ones in Colorado at the OTC ... but shooting in any of these gains you experience and your scores are put in the National rankings. Get on the USAS website and search for the schedules matches
In short ... NEVER TOO EARLY to start thinking about shooting in college ... just make sure that the institution can get you on the academic path you want. In the case of the Service Academies ... do you want to lead Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors or Marines?