The Watson Chapel High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps hosted its cohorts from around the state Saturday morning in an air rifle competition meant to instill discipline and concentration in its participants.

The Watson Chapel High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps hosted its cohorts from around the state Saturday morning in an air rifle competition meant to instill discipline and concentration in its participants.

Shooting two separate categories of guns, 10 schools fielded four-person teams using either sporter or precision rifles.

The head of Watson Chapel’s JROTC program, Lt. Col. Stan L. Warrick, explained the nuts and bolts of competitive air rifle shooting.

“The ROTC has a lot of different teams and one of those teams is air rifle,” Warrick said. “The Army, Air Force and Navy ROTC programs all have rifle teams. The weapons are furnished by the military services. Our rules and regulations are the same as those used for the Junior Olympics.”

Warrick said that the JROTC is open to boys and girls in grades nine through 12.

“The students shoot from the prone, standing and kneeling positions,” Warrick said. “They shoot 10 targets from each position and can earn a maximum of 300 points.”

The students are given 20 minutes to complete their shooting from the prone and standing positions and 15 minutes from the kneeling position, at a distance of 33 feet.

Warrick said awards are given for top individual scores as well as for each shooting stance.

“They are athletes, too,” Warrick said. “A lot of discipline is involved in shooting, including breath control.”

Watson Chapel precision team member Zachary Johnson, a sophomore, credits the air rifle team as a positive influence in his life.

“It has shaped me,” Johnson said. “It’s really helped me. I’ve made a lot of friends on this team.”

Johnson said being part of a team has been a good experience for him.

“With team participation you put in 100 percent effort,” Johnson said. “What you put into it is what you get out of it. I am in my second year and I love the rifle team.”

Delamar Daniels, a sophomore on Chapel’s precision rifle team, joined last year and is enjoying the experience.

“I joined as something for me to do,” Daniels said. “I enjoy it and I plan to stay on the team until I graduate.”

Daniels said that he particularly likes the team practice sessions, when members are told in detail what they need to do to improve their shooting performance.

Chapel freshman Daijah Powell is glad to be a part of the rifle team.

“This gives me something to do and the opportunity to be involved,” said Powell.

Newport

First Sgt. Woody Daniel, the JROTC instructor for the Newport team, emphasized the discipline that the activity teaches his students.

“This is a very time sensitive sport,” Daniel said. “You have to show self-discipline and self-motivation in order to do well. If you can beat your last score you’ve done a pretty good job.

“Students can qualify for college marksmanship scholarships and winners of the state competition can qualify for the Junior Olympics,” Daniel said.

Daniel said the top precision team in the state at present is from Northside High School in Fort Smith.

Northside

Northside instructor First Sgt. Seane Fry says his students are on the practice range from 6 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. four mornings a week in order to stay at their competition best.

Fry teaches his students that in order to excel in rifle matches they must also think about things like what they eat.

“We tell them about things to avoid like processed foods,” Fry said. “But, it’s expensive to eat healthy so it’s tough on these guys.

“This sport teaches them discipline and concentration.”

Sophomore Joseph Smith is a sporter rifle competitor on the Northside team.

“This is my first year,” Smith said. “I wanted to do this because most of my family is involved in the rifle scene. We were taught that in shooting it is important to limit your intake of things like sugar in order to keep your hands from trembling.”

Smith said he is hoping to eventually join the United States Navy.

Ayrielle Thompson, a Northside shooter on the precision team, said that she got into the sport after watching her sister compete.

“The thrill of pulling the trigger and then seeing how close I got to the target,” Thompson said of her favorite part of competitive shooting. “It really is a complete thrill.”

Dayvion Radford is in his first year on the Northside team.

“I thought that it looked cool and wanted to try out for it,” Radford said. “I’ve learned how to control my breathing. I’m thinking about joining the Air Force.”

Matthew Pham said being a part of the Northside team has given him an opportunity to be with friends.

Cristian Herrera is hoping that the experience he has gained on the Northside team will prepare him to enter the United States Army.

“I want to join the Army so I need to learn to shoot and be ready,” Herrera said.

JROTC programs from Watson Chapel, Sheridan, Malvern, North Little Rock, Pulaski County Special School District, Fort Smith, Rivercrest, Newport, Lonoke and Hot Springs took part in the competition.