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Kristina Kask, left, and Krista Joosep.

Editor's Update: Kristina Kask finished seventh in women's air pistol, eighth in women's sport pistol, and 22nd overall in the open air event. Krista Joosep placed 15th in both women's air and sport pistol events.

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Already among the nation's top collegiate women pistol shooters, two Bucknell University students will compete this month in the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships in Georgia.

Senior Kristina Kask and junior Krista Joosep qualified to compete in the March 10-14 championships at Fort Benning by finishing in the top 15 women firing in the Intercollegiate Pistol Sectionals competition in February at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Kask and Joosep finished third and 14th, respectively, in the sectionals, winning an invitation to compete for a title in the shooting championship. || Audio: Kristina Kask in her own words

In Georgia, they'll face competition from academies like the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Military College of South Carolina (the Citadel) and large universities such as OhioStateUniversity and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Air and sport pistol shooting is not all Kask, a French major, and Joosep, an international relations major, have in common.

Both transferred to Bucknell from Garrett College in western Maryland through the Bucknell Community College Scholars program that seeks out and supports highly motivated, high-achieving community college students with a two-year scholarship to Bucknell.

From Estonia
And both are from Paide, Estonia, where they were members of the same shooting club.

Pistol shooting, said Joosep, requires a "healthy balance between physical strength and mental concentration. You have to be strong physically to hold a pistol. But you compete against yourself and that is the most challenging thing. It is a very big, mental game. It's you, the target and the pistol."

Kask agreed, but adds that practice is one of the keys to her success.

"I was horrible at shooting when I first started, but I saw it as a challenge, and I wanted to get better. The more I shot, the more I liked it, and then I just fell in love with it to the point that it has become such an important part of my life," she said. "I was determined to get better, and I worked hard for it, and it has paid off."

Serious practice
It's not the number of practices, she added, but the quality of the practice. "Serious practice," said Kask. "You have to be able to self-analyze. You have to learn through mistakes. We can be our worst critics. But it has to be constructive criticism, not destructive criticism."

While at Garrett in 2006, Kask was crowned the collegiate women's sport pistol shooting champion. Being a 10-time Estonian national champion, she competed in World Championships where she finished 20th in 2002, and in European Championships, where her team won the bronze medal in 2003 while she finished seventh individually.

Kask and Joosep have been shooting 10 or more years.

Georgia events
In Georgia, Kask will shoot in three events, women's air pistol, women's sport pistol, and open (men and women) air pistol, while Joosep is qualified to fire in two events, women's sport pistol and women's air pistol.

Air pistols are sensitive to wind and are shot indoors, while sport pistol events, which use a .22 caliber bullet, are shot outdoors. In air pistol events, shooters get 40 shots for scoring purposes, each worth up to 10 points. In other events, 60 shots are fired with a total possible score of 600 points.

For pistol shooters Kask and Joosep, there may well be another target.

2012 Olympics
Further success in the sport could mean a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics as members of the Estonian Olympic Team. Those games will be staged in London.

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted March 6, 2008
Updated March 19, 2008