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Washington, Idaho are air rifle champions

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On Aug. 6, The American Legion's Junior Air Rifle National Championship got under way with a shoot-off between two precision category competitors, the first time in the competitions 21 years. Afterward, the sporter category top eight competitors stood alongside each other with air rifles in hand for their first 10 shots.

It was a tight 10-shot sporter match between Mitchell Van Patten from Meridian, Idaho, and Renz Ibarra from Zion, Ill. But in the end, Van Patten claimed the sporter championship title by a mere two points, firing a 2295.9 out of a possible 2509.

"During the competition I try to tell myself to relax, and my favorite position is the one that I shoot," Van Patten said. "My future plans are to make it to the Olympic Development Team and then on to the Olympics. And after all of that, I want to win the Olympics."

Mitchell's coach is his father, Brent, who says even if Mitchell wasn't his son, he would still love to be his coach because of his dedication.

"Being his father and coach is sometimes very prideful and joyful and other times it can be frustrating. It's an interesting balance," Brent said. "But he is a teachable, coachable person who has lofty goals and he works hard to meet them. Besides natural talent and hard work, he is focused and has a lot of self discipline. And one thing I'm really impressed with is he comes back from adversity."

The top eight precision competitors followed in the footsteps of the sporter competitors, standing side-by-side and firing 10 shots. With a five-point lead, Daniel Lowe from Olympia, Wash., claimed the precision champion title with a 2454.7 out of a possible 2509.

"My confidence comes from a close friend who gives me a motivational speech," Lowe said. "He tells me what I can do because sometimes I doubt myself and begin to think I will do badly. So my friend always looks me straight in the eyes and tells me to do my best and be all I can be."

Top five finishers: Precision - out of a possible 2509 points.
1. Daniel Lowe - 2454.7. From Olympia, Wash., and sponsored by Edward B. Rhoades Post 2.
2. Caleb Nelsen - 2449.5. From Ashland, Ohio, and sponsored by Frank A. Bender Post 473.
3. Kirsten Moyer - 2447.4. From Albuquerque, N.M., and sponsored by Post 49.
4. Kelsey Moral - 2441.9. From Sharpsburg, Ga., and sponsored by Post 57.
5. Rachel Martin - 2436.5. From Peralta, N.M., and sponsored by Post 85.

Top five finishers: Sporter - out of a possible 2509 points.
1. Mitchell Van Patten - 2295.9. From Meridian, Idaho, and sponsored by Lloyd Hutcheson Post 113.
2. Renz Ibarra - 2293.9. From Zion, Ill, and sponsored by Post 865.
3. Maneva Gill - 2281.2. From Pacifica, Calif., and sponsored by Post 238.
4. Alexandrea Provine - 2272.0. From Tucson, Ariz., and sponsored by Morgan McDermott Post 7.
5. Michael Stroud - 2269.7. From Des Moines, Iowa, and sponsored by Post 42.

Click here to see the championship results amongst the 16 finalist.


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16 shooters advance to final round

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On Friday, 15 competitors in both the sporter and precision category spent long hours inside the USA Shooting Range at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., for The American Legion's 21st annual Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship. The only sound that could be heard was the firing of .177 caliber air rifles.

Throughout the day, the 30 competitors took aim in three positions: prone, kneeling and standing. Scores were immediately calculated after each position and by late afternoon the top eight contestants in each category were announced. However, there was a tie for eighth position in the precision category between Jason Sharbel and Nathan Brandenbur. So to finalize the eighth competitor, the two young men will conduct a shoot-off before the championship round begins Saturday morning.

The following 16 individuals will compete in the championship round:

Sporter category
1. Renz Ibarra - Zion, Ill.
2. Mitchell Van Patten - Meridian, Idaho
3. Maneva Gill - Pacifica, Calif.
4. Alexandrea Provine - Tucson, Ariz.
5. Michael Stroud - Des Moines, Iowa
6. Jessica Haskins - Fort Worth, Texas
7. Timothy Teller - Chandler, Ariz.
8. Kimberly Heitmeyer - King George, Va.

Precision category
1. Daniel Lowe - Olympia, Wash.
2. Kirsten Moyer - Albuquerque, N.M.
3. Kelsey Moral - Sharpsburg, Ga.
4. Caleb Nelsen - Ashland, Ohio
5. Adam Grumbling - Sharpsburg,Ga.
6. Rachel Martin - Peralta, N.M.
7. Denise Martin - Colville, Wash.
8. Jason Sharbel-Montgomery, Ala. and Nathan Brandenbur-Annville, Penn.

Keep updated on the 2011 National Championship results by clicking here.


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Obama unveils vets employment initiatives

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President Barack Obama announced his plans to ensure that America's veterans have the support they need to get into the civilian workforce. The president unveiled his initiatives Friday morning in a speech at the Washington Navy Yard.

Obama outlined four proposals that aim to reduce the jobless rate among Post-9/11 veterans, which now stands at 13.3 percent.

• A new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans (maximum credit of $2,400 for every short-term unemployed hire and $4,800 for every long-term unemployed hire), and a Wounded Warriors Tax Credit that will increase the existing tax credit for firms that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.

• The president challenged businesses to hire or provide training for 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013. The Joining Forces program will lead this work with businesses and industry.

• The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, working closely with other agencies and the president's economic and domestic policy teams, will lead a new task force to develop reforms to ensure that servicemembers receives the training, education and credentials they need to transition to the civilian workforce or pursue higher education.

• The Department of Labor will establish a new initiative to deliver an enhanced career development and job-search service package for transitioning veterans at their local One-Stop career centers. The Office of Personnel Management will create a "Best Practices" manual for the private sector to help businesses identify and hire veterans.

"The White House is acting on several initiatives that The American Legion has been urging President Obama to address ever since he took office," American Legion National Commander Jimmie L. Foster said.

Foster said the president's initiatives reflected The American Legion's national effort to hire veterans through more than 100 career fairs it sponsors each year, as well as development workshops for veteran-owned small businesses and education roundtables that focus on issues that affect student veterans.

"We have about 1 million unemployed veterans right now," Foster said. Most of them are young and worked in jobs that have been hit the hardest by the recession, such as construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities.

"The American Legion wants employers and businesses to move aggressively to recruit more veterans. They are well trained, well qualified, responsible and reliable. We need to honor their service by giving them jobs."

Peter Gaytan, executive director of the Legion's Washington office, said that another 1 million servicemembers are projected to leave the military between now and 2016. "So joblessness among our veterans could become even worse if we don't take decisive action now," Gaytan said. "These White House initiatives are just what our jobless veterans need, and just what the Legion has been recommending to the president."


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Governor Quinn Signs Bill to Boost Small Businesses Owned by Illinois Veterans - New Law Helps Small Businesses Participate in State Projects

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TINLEY PARK – August 5, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to boost small businesses owned by Illinois Veterans. Under the new law, the state will set an annual goal of 3 percent of every state contract to be set aside for businesses owned by Veterans and service-disabled Veterans.

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Governor Quinn Announces Key Appointment - Army Veteran and Former Senior Staff Member for Gen. David H. Petraeus Erica Borggren Appointed Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

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CHICAGO – August 5, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today appointed Erica Borggren as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. An Illinois native and Army Veteran, Borggren previously served as a senior staff member for Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. She replaces fellow Iraq war Veteran Dan Grant, who is leaving to pursue a post-graduate degree. Today’s action is the latest in a series of appointments the Governor is making as he continues to fulfill his commitment to serving Illinois’ Veterans.

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