HOLMEN — James DeLambert, Jacob Leinbach and Austin Elvaker aren’t your typical 12 to 14 year olds.
Yes, they have the basic elements of being a young teen, but as for what they do in their spare time:
It’s a little out of the ordinary.
The trio spends time at the Holmen Rod and Gun Club firing handguns. However, it gets a little more complicated than just shooting.
Instead of opening fire on targets, they incorporate courses, which are certified by the United States Practical Shooting Association, that simulate certain situations.
“Honestly, I don’t even know how I got into shooting,” DeLambert said. “I’ve always wanted to go into law enforcement.
“I used to shoot airsoft guns, and I loved that. So, I saved up and I decided I wanted to buy a real gun, so I bought a shotgun for $40. I went out and shot that, and I just loved it.”
Courses vary in difficulty depending on the skill of the shooter, but they typically involve quick firing at moving targets, reloading and some mobility, all while being timed.
“I loved it. I was very excited,” DeLambert said, recalling his first time competing at the Holmen Rod and Gun Club. “We’ve got some great people running it that have helped me out a lot.”
DeLambert is just 12 years old and has already participated in a variety of USPSA competitions throughout the state.
He’s even exceeded the state boundaries.
“I’ve been to the Minnesota and Wisconsin sectionals and (USPSA) Area 5 (in Polo, Ill.),” said DeLambert, who started shooting when he was 9 years old and began USPSA shooting just over a year ago.
“It kind of gets that adrenaline flowing when that (starting) beeper goes off for the first time.”
This year, DeLambert won’t be alone at the Wisconsin Sectional Championship, which will be held at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wis.
Leinbach, 13, will be making the trip with DeLambert in early September to make his sectional debut.
“It’s going to be really fun,” Leinbach said. “I think it’s going to be a lot more fun going with someone that I know because we can coach each other.”
Leinbach began shooting at an even younger age than DeLambert — 5 years old — with safety taking precedence over everything else.
“My dad (Stu) taught me everything (about safety),” Leinbach said. “I also started with airsoft guns in our basement, and when we got to real guns I was scared. I was trying to be really safe. My dad had to load the gun for me and everything.”
Stu is a longtime hunter and used to take Jacob hunting with him when he was younger. Soon enough, Stu’s passion was passed down to Jacob.
“When he was 4, 5 years old I would take him hunting with a tree stand and I would strap him in and he liked that aspect of it,” Stu said. “He always wanted to go shooting, so I started him with a .22 and worked up to bigger guns as he got older.”
Now, the teacher is becoming the student in some ways.
“He’s doing really well,” Stu said. “He’s even starting to beat me a little bit.”
Jacob, who just started competing this year, is close to achieving D Class status, while Elvaker, 14, has already reached D Class. James is a B Class and is currently looking for sponsors to help him branch out and compete an even more extensive schedule.
“He met a gal that was 15 from Missouri that is sponsored, and her dad suggested that we try it for James,” said James’ mother, Donna. “We just sent out 40 letters this week, so it’s just starting.”
Now they’re forced to just play the waiting game.
“We don’t know what kind of response we’ll get,” said James’ father Bob. “He’s young.”
There’s no denying the dangers that come with shooting, especially at such a young age. But, again, James, Jacob and Austin aren’t your typical 12 to 14 year olds.
“A lot of people at 12 shouldn’t be handling a handgun, but there’s people at 35 that shouldn’t be handling a handgun,” Bob said. “It worked for (James). He’s very mature with it.”