Shannon Moriarty needed to do everything right to win the U15 women’s junior championship during the USA Shooting Winter Airgun Championship competition held Dec. 8-12 in Ohio.

The Spring Ridge Middle School student needed a high amount of laser-sharp concentration and focus, the correct right hand placement and of course, a promise from her mother that she would receive her Pillow Pet.

The wager began before a competition last fall when Moriarty approached her mother with an offer.

“I was like, ‘I think I can shoot over 600. If I do can I get a Pillow Pet?’” said the Great Mills resident, whose personal record at the time was in the 590s.

“Six hundred is a big mark that takes people years to get,” Susan Moriarty said. “I’m thinking, ‘Forty dollars for something that might one day get her into college,’ so I said, ‘Of course I’ll buy you a Pillow Pet.’”

And when Shannon shot a 603 at the Walther Cup in West Virginia, the Chocolate Cow Pillow Pet was ordered.

Next up was Banana Cow, Lavender Lamb, Bubble Gum Piggy and three others.

“She can barely get in her bed because she has so many,” Susan said.

And if her results at the Winter Airgun Championships are any indication, Shannon’s Pillow Pet collection could grow exponentially.

Shannon began the three-day U15 championship with a score of 612 on the first day and added scores of 603 and 608.6, respectively, to finish with an aggregate score of 1,823.9.

“I was happy because if I had shot bad the first day it would have been in my head,” said Moriarty, who uses a Walther LG-400 Expert. “I knew I couldn’t shoot horribly [the last two days]. I had to be consistent.”

In airgun competition, competitors stand and shoot 60 times at a target 10 meters (about 32.8 feet) away. The 10-ring target is about the size of a quarter with the bulls-eye about the size of a period. A perfect score is 654, which has never been done. The world record is 633.5.

She finished 74.6 points ahead of runner-up Josie Eichmann, 36.5 points ahead of boys champion Deitrich Bergman and was the only one among the 14 participants in her age group to top 600.

“She works very hard and she’s a very good student,” said Chris Lekhavanija, who has been her coach for the last 18 months. “I’m very proud of her.”

Her biggest worry when it was confirmed she had won was receiving her hardware from shooting legend Gary Anderson.

“It was like the weirdest thing because the guy who put the medal on me [after I won Superfinals], it got stuck on my glasses,” Shannon said. “And I thought the medal was going to get stuck on me while [Anderson’s] putting it on me. I thought, ‘I’m going to look like an idiot,’ but it didn’t [get stuck] so I was real happy about that.”

Shannon said she had a good feeling about the competition a few weeks before.

“I had my left hand positioned absolutely horrible,” she said of her support hand. “It wasn’t until I started shooting with my hand positioned normally that I started to shoot over 600.”

Shannon took up the sport when her father signed her up for a lesson with Project Appleseed, which the website says is a “non-partisan group of men and women (known as the Revolutionary War Veterans Association) who are committed to upholding the values and principles of America’s founding fathers ... [who] use rifle marksmanship instruction as a gateway to help bring our nation’s history to life and to show that many of the values that our forefathers relied on to win our independence are still very much in demand today.”

“The first time I was kind of bad,” she admitted, “but I liked that it was challenging and that you had to work hard to get what you wanted.”

While at a match, she was noticed by Arlington Rifle and Pistol Club Junior program coaches and was invited to join their club.

“Surprisingly I didn’t want to do small bore air rifle and my dad just kept saying, ‘You need to do this,’” Shannon said. “But I was just against it and didn’t want to do it, but then I tried it and was pretty good at it.”

She and her parents make the 70-mile trip to Marriottsville each Saturday and Sunday so she can practice two hours with the club.

“I think one thing [that makes her good] is she has a very good concentration and she’s so dedicated to the sport and works hard,” Lekhavanija said. “And she enjoys the sport.”

This weekend, she will compete in the Maryland State Junior Olympic Rifle Championships at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

“She’s shooting with 21-year-olds and former Olympians, so it’s hard to remember she’s only 13,” Susan said. “And then she asks me for a Pillow Pet and she has a bed full of stuffed animals which reminds me that even though she’s doing so well in her sport, she’s still a kid.

But Susan also recognizes that Shannon is also getting older, so Pillow Pets may be a thing of the past soon enough.

“I think it’s going to get exponentially more expensive [for me] from here,” Susan said.

Twitter: @MichaelSoMdNews

Twitter: @MichaelSoMdNews