Specialized skills and safety knowledge are being heightened by students at Bradley Central High School through JROTC’s rifle team.
This the group’s first year to organize a competition rifle team.
“I had all my cadets try out. We went through a safety program first. The had to make a 100 on the safety test, and then once everybody did that everybody got the chance to shoot,” Lt. Coronel Chris Ingle, senior Army instructor for BCHS JROTC, said.
Ingle said he divided those eligible into smaller and smaller groups in order to pick the final five.
“Really about 5 percent of the people who shoot have the ability to do this,” Ingle said. “It is a very, very skilled sport.”
The bull’s eye of the target cadets are shooting at is the size of a pinhead.
“It requires unbelievable steady nerves. ... You have to calm way down because anything that you do ... a millimeter of movement here equates to half an inch of movement down there,” Ingle said. “This is a really unique sport.”
Cadets use compressed air to power the rifles that shoot a .177 pellet.
“They’re pretty accurate for a good shooter,” Ingle said.
Competitors shoot at a line of mini-targets in three positions — prone, standing and kneeling.
During the prone and kneeling stances, a sling may be used to steady the pellet rifle. In the standing stance, no assistance may be used.
“If you hit the dead center, that’s 10 points. One ring out, nine (etc.),” Ingle said.
Teams combine the top four members scores to determine a winner.
BCHS JROTC’s rifle team has competed in eight competitions this year.
“We’ve won our last three in a row and four out of our last five,” Ingle said.
The instructor said this was really good for the team, because it was the students’ first time experiencing the sport.
“They just found out that they have this talent,” Ingle said.
Ingle is looking forward to the future of the team, because many of his talented shooters are freshman and sophomores.
“Weapons safety has always been a part of JROTC,” Ingle said.
He said the rifle team offers cadets good competition. Rifle teams are a Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletics Association sanctioned sport.
Rifle shooting is also an Olympic sport. Ingle said students can try out in March to qualify.