State Junior Olympics championship earns VHS shooter a chance at gold

Jeff Bobo • Feb 10, 2020 at 1:45 PM

CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School senior Jaden-Ann Fraser is really on a roll.

Fresh off her signing with North Georgia University to compete on the UNG Nighthawk rifle team for the next four years, Fraser also landed the lead roll of “Alice” in a Barter Theater Youth Academy’s March 30 production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

And to top that off, on Jan. 24-25 she competed in the Tennessee State Junior Olympic Qualifier at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, where she won the state championship in Standing Air Rifle and placed second in small bore (.22-caliber) rifle in the Precision Division.

Fraser told the Times News last week that Junior Olympic state championship has big ramifications.

“Because of the score I shot in the standing air competition, aside from me winning it, I shot the automatic qualifying score,” Fraser said. “So I'm guaranteed to go to Colorado for the actual Nationals at the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colorado in April.”

Back to Colorado Springs

Fraser is no stranger to Colorado Springs. This past summer she won the Junior Olympics national championship for the second year in a row in the Sporter Rifle Division.

Fraser added, “I would love to carry that over to Precision, and hopefully take it this April. It’s really cool to be going back to the (Junior Olympic) competition — different arena, different gun, but still the same title.”

She competed her first three seasons on the Volunteer NJROTC rifle team in the Sporter Division, earning nine national titles, and she was part of five team national championships. For her senior year, Fraser moved up to the Precision Division to shoot as an independent because the Volunteer team is strictly Sporter.

Fraser’s Volunteer teammate, sophomore Olivia Cattrell, also moved up to Precision this year. Cattrell placed second in the state Junior Olympics Standing Air Rifle Precision match.

What’s the difference between Sporter and Precision?

“The difference between Sporter and Precision is that in Precision you have a full body suit, a way more expensive, more accurate gun, and everything is just so honed in on stability that the scores are astronomically higher, typically,” Fraser said. “It’s the exact same target, exact same distance. The only difference is the gear that you have and the quality of the rifle itself. In Sporter, you have a cheaper rifle and no actual support gear for the shooter.”

Fraser added, “It’s like a different country, same continent kind of thing, where the sport itself has a lot of similarities, but just how still you are — it’s more difficult mentally to handle. In Sporter, three points is not a big gap between shooters at all, versus Precision where a tenth of a point is a reasonable gap.”

“I’m hoping I have a fair shot”

Comparing her scores in Nashville to past Junior Olympic Precision national competitions, Fraser said she is very competitive.

“The scores always change year by year, gradually getting better, so I’m hoping I have a fair shot at one of the podium places.”

Fraser will probably shoot five more Precision meets before heading off to college at UNG in August.

Looking ahead to the Junior Olympic Nationals in April, Fraser is preparing to go up against more than 150 of the best-of-the-best shooters in the nation.

“I’m really looking forward to the competition and just being in that competitive environment, but also knowing that everyone who competes is really supportive of each other. I think that’s what makes competitive marksmanship stand alone as far as all of the other competitive sports, just how supportive everybody is of each other,” she said.

A big show before the big showdown

But first, she has a big show to complete in Abingdon. Aside from competing on the rifle team, Fraser has been active in Volunteer’s choir and musical theater.

And as with her rifle competition, she upped her game in song and dance for her senior year by being accepted into the Barter Theater Youth Academy.

“I’m really passionate about the performing arts, and I love that my schedule would allow for me to both be a competitive marksman and be involved in stuff like choir and theater,” Fraser said. “I just wanted to branch out a little more before college and have more experiences.”

Her March 30 performance as the lead in “Alice in Wonderland” will be on Barter’s Stage 2 in Abingdon.