Carbondale teen Dalton Groom competes at national rodeo competition, places 45th |

Carbondale teen Dalton Groom competes at national rodeo competition, places 45th

Cody Jones
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
National Junior High Finals Rodeo
Courtesy photo

Carbondale’s Dalton Groom had his scope set on success this year in the local rodeo circuits. Due to that success, the 14-year-old who recently graduated from Carbondale Middle School not only ranked himself as one of the best at rifle shooting in the nation, but also earned his spot in the National Junior High Finals Rodeo competition in Des Moines, Iowa, this past weekend.

The NJFR is a national rodeo competition where junior high students compete in all the main rodeo events. For Groom’s event of rifle shooting, there are a limited number of spots available per state, and Groom was able to secure his spot by placing second in the Colorado Junior High Finals with a score of 128 points.

The rifle shoot competition consists of shooting at targets from different positions and distances with a .22 caliber small bore rifle. Groom said he puts in a lot of work and preparation prior to any competition in order to be able to compete at the level he is at.

“I usually go up to my uncle’s house and set up a target or sometimes I go to a shooting range,” he said. “I then practice shooting from all of my positions for up to two to three hours a day.”

In other words, the unique sport requires the same amount of practice as any other sport. Groom must feel confident in his abilities to shoot prone, standing, kneeling and sitting in order to ensure that he is able to adequately compete against the other competition.

Groom has religiously been practicing and competing in rifle shooting since the start of the sixth grade, but has grown up around rodeo his entire life.

“Dalton competes in roping as well but just wasn’t able to make nationals in that event. His sister also competes in rodeo competitions, so it’s a family affair,” said Dalton’s father, Steve Groom.

That family affair-feel shows as Steve Groom talks about his son as they both make the 12-hour drive to Des Moines. The Groom family are also regulars at their local Carbondale Wild West Rodeo, where Dalton’s brother, Drake, and sister, Laiken, enthusiastically compete.

Dalton Groom shoots from prone at the National Junior High Free Rodeo Competition.
Steve Groom/Courtesy photo

Groom currently being ranked high in the national rankings gives him quite a bit of confidence as he enters the national competition.

“I want to try to win in Des Moines,” he said before the event. “I am excited to see how well I can do against the other competition.”

Groom ended up competing at a high level at nationals. He was able to make all his practice pay off by placing 45th out of 112 competitors. Groom scored a total of 222 total points, with his best position being prone, where he scored 95 points.

Next year, Groom will be moving up in competition as he transitions to the high school division. Groom’s bravado isn’t intimidated by being a young buck among brazen upperclassmen.

“I want to get to the point where I am ranked first in the nation and win the high school rodeo competition,” he said. “That will be my main goal going forward.”

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