Home News Middle- and High-School Scioto Valley Kids Learn Safe and Accurate Shooting

Middle- and High-School Scioto Valley Kids Learn Safe and Accurate Shooting

Head Coach Este Moraleja of the Ross County Steel Ringers shooting team.

Ross County – A shooting team of 15 kids, ages 11 to 18, are ready for a state competition this weekend. The “Ross County Steel Ringers” rang steel targets with hot lead as they practiced at the Ross County Conservation League when I spoke with their head coach Monday.

The Steel Ringers have a practice session under the tutelage of coach Este Moraleja.

Este Moraleja explained that he is in his ninth year of firearms coaching. He started with a 4-H program, but because of COVID restrictions, he focused on the Steel Ringers team. They have competed in 168 events, and have had 70 top-three placements.

As posted on their Facebook page,

The Ross County Steel Ringers are a team of youths involved in the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP), which offers youth from 5th grade through college the opportunity to safely participate in competitive steel shooting using .22 rifles, .22 pistols and at this moment 1911 centerfire pistols. We eventually plan to compete in shotgun events.

Our club is open to anyone in Ross county or any of the neighboring counties in Ohio.

• Youth may participate using .22 rifles, .22 handguns and/or centerfire handguns.
• Targets are steel circle or rectangular plates.
• All courses of fire are timed events.

Moraleja says the closest student shooting teams are in Franklin County, Gallipolis, and Cincinnati – so members are welcome from beyond Ross County.

He says their main focus is safety, and that shooting sports is the safest athletic program – but when something wrong happens, it can be bad. Moraleja says he has received criticism for putting guns in the hands of children, but says the kids are safer with firearms after having been trained on them.

The cost to participate is fairly low, and some of the supplies – including ammunition and team uniforms – have been donated.

Moraleja also says part of the reason he started learning about and training in firearms is when he lived in the Hilltop neighborhood of western Columbus – a place with bad crime statistics.

He says the Steel Ringers participates in three main events: the Ohio State match this weekend, the nationals in July, and the 4-H event at Canter’s Cave in Jackson County.

Hear Moraleja in his own words in the below interview video, and see the kids in action.

The Ross County Steel Ringers have a Facebook page and can be emailed at [email protected].

The 2024 Steel Ringers shooting team portrait, with all but one of the kids.