By: John M. Walker
Fort Payne High School Rifle Team members Kristen Fowler, Devin Thomason, Ibet Perez, Jade Robison, and Caleb Stalvey made school history by taking third place at the 2019 JROTC Service Regional Championships for 3-Postiion Air Rifle (3-PAR) held 16-17 February, at the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Range, in Anniston.
“This is the first time that FPHS athletes have made it onto the podium at this level of air rifle competition since the team was created back in 1993,” stated retired Army Lieutenant Colonel John M. Walker, JROTC senior instructor and the team coach. “They now advance to the JROTC All-Service Nationals as the 7th best Army JROTC team in the nation and the 18th best among all services including Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force JROTC teams from all 50 states.”
The team brought home bronze after a hotly-contested two days of competition. Each day required shooters to fire a 3×20 match of 20 shots in each of three positions, prone, standing, and kneeling at an electronically scored target 10 meters away. The top 8 shooters fired an intense 10-shot standing final to determine the bronze, silver, and gold medalists. Fort Payne’s Thomason and Fowler both made the top eight shooters and finished 6th and 8th respectively.
Across the country, 873 Cadets competed in the 2019 JROTC Service Regional Championships in to determine the top 7 JROTC teams in each branch of service. Army, Navy, Marine Corps , and Air Force Teams competed in Chandler, Arizona for the western region; Camp Perry, Ohio for the northeast region; and Anniston, Alabama for the southeast region.
The Fort Payne athletes will now compete as the only JROTC team representing the state of Alabama in the Nationals. The national championship match will again consist of two days of competition with the best 28 teams in the country vying for the nationals championship. The national-level competition will take place 21-23 March at the CMP range in Anniston, Alabama.
Three-Position Air Rifle is the most popular and fastest growing form of shooting sports competition for junior shooters (high school and younger) and is also an Olympic sport. Competitors fire at targets at a distance of 10 meters (33 feet.)
“We hope to represent Fort Payne and Alabama well at the national-level of competition and would love to have as many family, friends, school mates, and sports enthusiasts as possible join us in Anniston to cheer on the Wildcat Battalion Rifles.” Those unable to attend can keep up with the action via the CMP live targets link at the following URL http://thecmp.org/competitions/live-targets/