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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

Rob Kautz of Jeffersonville received his two national VFW-NRA marksmanship awards from Verl Ringgenberg, Senior Vice Commander New York State VFW District 2, left, and Robert Barnhart, Senior Vice Commander New York VFW, right, who was representing the National VFW Commander in Chief.

Marksmanship Awards
Garnered by Jeff’s Kautz

By Rob Potter
CALLICOON — August 25, 2006 — Rob Kautz has a sharp eye and a steady trigger finger when firing a rifle.
This past winter, the 22-year-old Jeffersonville resident, who has been a member of the Delaware Valley Rifle Club since he was 12, used his talents to win two national marksmanship awards.
In a ceremony on Tuesday night at Lander’s River Cafe in Callicoon, Kautz received the First Place Veterans of Foreign Wars National Award 2005-2006 VFW-NRA Adult Smallbore Postal Match and the 2006 NRA-VFW National Adult 3-Position Smallbore Rifle Postal Match 1st Place Individual award.
Kautz, who attends the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., achieved the top scores to earn the prestigious national awards while shooting with the Delaware Valley Rifle Club this past December and January when he was home for the winter break.
Presenting the awards to Kautz were Robert Barnhart, Senior Vice Commander New York VFW, representing the National VFW Commander in Chief and Verl Ringgenberg, Senior Vice Commander New York State VFW District 2. Ringgenberg is also a Past Commander of Allan Milk Memorial VFW Post 7276 of Long Eddy, which sponsors the Delaware Valley Rifle Club.
Among those in attendance for the ceremony were Past State VFW Commander/National Council Member Jim Longendyke; Delaware Valley Rifle Club coaches/spotters Paul Brustman, Earl Kinney, Bill Schultz and Al Steppich; Delaware Valley Rifle Club Secretary Jean Smith – who is also Kautz’s mother; and members of VFW Post 7276 and VFW Post 5808 of Callicoon.
“I was shocked,” Kautz replied when asked how he felt when he first learned about the national awards.
“I owe a lot of the credit for the awards to those four gentlemen,” he said as he pointed to Brustman, Kinney, Schultz and Steppich.
Kautz, a 2003 Sullivan West Central School graduate, said that he “wants to keep improving” his shooting ability and scores.
“He is one of the best shooters I have seen in my life,” Schultz said. “Rob has had several perfect scores in the past few years. We are all very proud of him.”
Steppich said that he “was proud to coach Rob.”
According to club instructors, this is the first time that a member has earned a national VFW-NRA award.
Kautz said he really enjoys rifle shooting.
“It’s a sport for anybody,” he commented. “It’s a self-sport.”
A couple years ago, Kautz encouraged his younger brother Harold Smith to join the Delaware Valley Rifle Club. This past winter, the 15-year-old Smith completed his second season with the club.
Kautz said he has also asked his 12-year-old sister Kaitlyn Smith to participate in the club.
The Delaware Valley Rifle Club was established in the late 1940s. Practices and competitions were held at the Delaware Valley Central School located on Route 97 north of Callicoon.
For the past several years, the club members and instructors have met every Wednesday night during the winter in Hortonville to shoot at the seven-position range set up inside Kinney’s garage.
In addition to Post 7276, the club is sponsored by several local businesses and individuals, including Buck Ridge Hunting Club, Callicoon Kiwanis, Delaware Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons #561 in Callicoon, Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, Jim Henke, Mandrake Hunting Club and Richard Mirch of Tompkins Bluestone.

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