Generous grants from local Friends of NRA events make all the difference for junior rifle shooters
Four Years Fly By, by Peter Lawless, NRA Event Support Coordinator, reprinted from Traditions Quarter 2: 2014
Deep in the mountains of southwest Virginia, Franklin County High School is home to one of the most highly awarded Air Force JROTC marksmanship programs in the country.
In 2010 the unit started its first Sporter Air Rifle team with six positions, which practiced by shooting single pump air rifles at pellet traps set on top of milk crates. Four short years later, the team boasts national records and championship titles, and it has grown to 24 positions in three Sporter teams and a newly formed Precision team.
“This year we had all of our shooters qualify for national matches and all are nationally ranked,” says Head Coach LTC Tracey Carter (USAF, Ret.). He explains that this even includes the three freshmen who picked up a rifle for the first time in October; by December they were shooting national level scores, and they attended the National JROTC Championships in February.
“Most clubs would love to have even one team qualify,” remarks Carter. “I am getting emails and calls about twice a week asking questions about how we do things, and we have caught the attention of some college athletic recruiters.”
In addition to competing in local league matches, the Franklin Co. HS AFJROTC marksmanship program competes in matches run by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), NRA and USA Shooting. The team travels to six national competitions each year. Its complete list of titles and accolades is too long to list here, but it includes JROTC and junior rifle club championship titles as well as accomplishments of the individual shooters on the team.
One of the team’s most recent, and significant, accomplishments is breaking the national record for an Air Force JROTC Precision rifle team at the 2014 JROTC Service Championships—in the Precision team’s first year of competition! Precision teams prove difficult to start due to the cost of the special equipment that Sporter teams do not require. Fortunately, a $10,000 grant from The NRA Foundation last year allowed the Franklin Co. team to purchase the necessary equipment and field the team that brought home the title.
With the continued support of Friends of NRA, Coach Carter has big plans for the team’s future. “We hope to keep the success from the past four years going year after year and to get shooters into college shooting programs, but we have many other goals,” he explains. “We want young people to experience the sport and make a lasting impression on them. They can shoot their whole life if they want. They are more disciplined, they make better grades, and they concentrate more. They know what it takes to reach a high goal without quitting.”
Expressing his satisfaction with the success of the program so far, Carter concludes, “It is amazing to see a shooter grow and excel in a four-year period. Marksmanship is a tough physical and mental sport that takes control. I am very proud of what our team has done, and I know they [its members] can accomplish any task in life.”
Think an NRA Foundation grant could help your shooting sports program? The 2014 grant season has just begun! Apply at www.nrafoundation.org for a grant funded by Friends of NRA fundraising.