September 12th, 2021

The Rifle Patriarch — 48 Years of Service to Youth Shooting

Norris Diefenderfer shooting coach maryland retires Chambersburg

CMP Report submitted by George Kuhne, Everett Junior Rifle Club
Norris Diefenderfer, a long-time coach with the Antietam Junior Rifle Club from Hagerstown, Maryland, is retiring after coaching junior athletes for nearly 50 years. Diefenderfer, now 85 years of age, started his coaching career in May of 1973 when the leader of the Washington County, Maryland, 4-H rifle club became ill and was unable to find a replacement. Norris stepped in to fill the role. Now, 48 years later, after coaching hundreds of talented young shooters, Norris is retiring.

Norris Diefenderfer shooting coach maryland retires Chambersburg
Norris delivering instruction to his shooters on the standing position. Norris was adamant about teaching a standing shooting position that does not put unnecessary stress on the spine.

Norris Diefenderfer shooting coach maryland retires Chambersburg
Norris (left, seated) with his team members at the 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry. Norris brought his first group of juniors to the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1982, starting a tradition that has continued since.

77 of Diefenderfer’s Shooters Have Received Division 1 College Scholarships
This summer, at the 2021 National Matches at Camp Perry, Norris decided to retire after 48 years of coaching. He leaves a legacy of dedication to hundreds of young athletes, including 77 who have gone on to receive Division 1 college shooting scholarships. These scholarships total in the millions of dollars and have made education possible for a number of individuals who may not have attended college without them. Several of his athletes have also gone on to All-American honors at the collegiate level.

Initially, the 4-H rifle club only met through the summer months, with their season culminating at the annual 4-H rifle match. As time passed, Norris became interested in getting his juniors involved in additional matches. He acquired the ability to use the nearby Chambersburg Rod and Gun Club range in Pennsylvania and held weekly practices, alternating between smallbore and air rifle. Once a month, the young athletes would shoot a college-format match consisting of a course of fire of 60-shot 3P (three position) smallbore along with 60-shot standing air rifle.

During the summer months Norris moved his practices to the North American Rod & Gun Club in Hagerstown, Maryland, for outdoor shooting at 50 yards — maintaining a personal philosophy that shooting outdoors helped make for better indoor results. Norris also directed week-long smallbore summer camps at the Hagerstown Club.

Norris Diefenderfer shooting coach maryland retires Chambersburg
This photo is from a report on 2013 Antietam summer smallbore camp lead by Norris Diefenderfer and rifle Coach Kelley of the U.S. Naval Academy. CLICK HERE for a full report with more photos.

Upon his retirement from employment in 1996, Norris renamed the club the Antietam Junior Rifle Club. His junior athletes began traveling to several matches outside of their club like the state Junior Olympic Rifle Competition (JORC), the National Rifle Association (NRA) sectionals, the Palmyra Invitational and some open collegiate matches.

Diefenderfer’s successful teaching methods have been shared with coaches for many other training programs. He stresses shooting positions that are fundamentally sound and safe for the juniors, avoiding the all-too-often occurring back and spine issues that can occur from poor training. His sense of humor and warm, encouraging demeanor with his athletes will be greatly missed.

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