by Emma Fitzhugh | Staff Writer
After four days a week, for several weeks, of after school shooting practice, sophomore Vanessa Cates knows what’s at stake in this moment. She sets herself up in the appropriate position, takes aim, and releases the trigger.
“Rifle team is made up of two teams. Sporter, which is junior varsity. And Precision, which is varsity. We use different rifles but they are both categorized as air rifles; one is more precise than the other,” Cates said.
The JROTC Rifle team is an optional opportunity for students, regardless of whether or not they are involved in JROTC, to be able to shoot different types of rifle guns at multiple targets in order to earn points in competitions that actually contribute toward our school.
This being her second year in rifle team, Cates is familiar with the feelings that come with competing.
“In competitions we shoot against other people from other schools, or districts, and try to get the highest scores in the positions of standing, kneeling, and prone- which is laying down. At the end of each competition, all three or six of the pages with our targets are graded, depending on if we are shooting a 3 by 10 or a 3 by 20, with the highest score on each paper being 100. Then that determines our placing, like 1st place, 15th place, 32nd place,” Cates said.
And these types of competitions aren’t just in San Antonio, but in several different cities, sometimes even outside of Texas, which gives Cates a sense of mutual enjoyment.
“It is nice to travel and see different places, meet different people, and shoot with people who have as much of a passion as you do. Rifle team helps to relieve stress by shooting and it gives you a feeling of belonging somewhere,” Cates said.
Sophomore and one of several rifle team leaders Daniel Young explains how this team allows him to escape reality for a little while, and be involved in an activity he enjoys.
“I enjoy being able to hang out with my friends in rifle team, and just forget what happened that day, and just focus on the team,” Young said.
Young also explains what rifle team is all about, and how these shooting competitions contribute towards our school’s points.
“Rifle team is basically where a bunch of people get together and they shoot competitively and non-competitively to make the team get better, and improve the school’s ratings. The team’s points go towards the Superintendent’s trophy, and it gives them a sense of competitive-ship but teaches them good sportsmanship too,” Young said.
These rifle team shooting competitions are seasonal, and can take place at multiple events around the city. Depending on if the team makes it to the national level, there is also a possibility that the team could travel outside the state, according to Young.
“Usually we do the competitions in the beginning of the year, around September, November, and December. We have one here, coming up on February 21st and 22nd. We usually do them on the weekends, however we do sometimes have them on Friday’s. There’s multiple events; there’s a district place on Broadway that we go to for district matches, there’s postal matches, which is where we shoot out on the range and nail them in, there’s nationals, which is in Einstein, Alabama, Army JROTC, and Tri,” Young said.
There to make sure that everything is in order for not only competitions, but practices, equipment, and more, is rifle team commander and junior Max Pawloski.
“I am the commander of the rifle team. For me, that means whenever we do practices, it’s my job to make sure that everything is in order, and when we go out to competitions I have to make sure that everyone’s managed and they have all of the supplies they need. I help come up with training plans with our Colonel, or our coach, and whenever there’s a meeting, for the information that needs to be given out to teams, I’m usually the first one to receive that information and then I deliver it to the team, in whatever order that goes,” Pawloski said.
Along with help from his ‘XO’ (Executive Officer) and co-commander Nathan Reyes, also a sophomore, Pawloski explains how the team should try to perform the best that they can in order to put up a high score for our school.
“When we go to the meets, there’s a whole bunch of shooting lanes, and we all get in the middle lanes and we all shoot the targets at the same time, under the supervision of the same safety officers. By the end, when everybody’s done shooting, they determine who the winner is by which team has the best total score. Scores are graded out of 300 points total that you can shoot,” Pawloski said.
There to help lead the team alongside Pawloski is Colonel Ron McLaurin, who explains why he thinks this team is almost more a mental sport than a matter of physical capabilities.
“Well part of it is, it’s a very disciplined sport that takes a lot of mental concentration, they’re also doing physical training now as part of it. It’s Monday through Friday normally, about an hour and a half on the range everyday. You’ve gotta learn how to shoot with extreme accuracy in three different positions, there are certain forms that you have to take, and positions- you’ve gotta learn those, but it’s a mental discipline, and there are some physical aspects to it too. Because as you’re standing there for about two hours shooting with a ten pound rifle, it starts to get heavy,” McLaurin said.
McLaurin goes on to say how out of 137 cadets in JROTC, 14 of them chose to be apart of the rifle team. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, Pawloski agrees with the Colonel on the mental aspects of this sport, and explains how he will continue to be a part of this team, as he has been for several years now.
“I enjoy the sport the most- it’s a really nice sport, because it focuses on mental aspects and learning to really control and work on yourself. I’m going to continue to be a part of the rifle team, until I graduate. I still want to be the commander next year,” Pawloski said.