Mauldin High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Corps’ (JROTC) Olympic style air rifle team has repeated not only as Upper State Regional Champions but they are also one of the top ranked teams in the nation.
It has been 11 years since Mauldin High began its Navy JROTC program and throughout those years there have been many successes. The program continues to achieve high accolades as this past week the air rifle team competed against six other upstate schools for the regional championship. The team will next compete and hopefully win their second area (think “state”) championship. This match will pit them against the top teams in all of North and South Carolina (collectively known as Area 6); last year Mauldin became the first upstate school to win that title.
Most recently the team competed in the Secretary of the Navy’s nationwide match where all 600 schools with a Navy JROTC unit were invited to participate of which 303 submitted entries. The match was conducted as a “postal” where teams shot their targets on their home range and then mailed them to a central grading entity at Camp Perry, Ohio. When the final results were posted the Maverick Navy team had its highest finish ever moving from the mid 40’s last year, to a ninth overall finish and an automatic berth to compete in the navy national shoulder to shoulder competition which will be held in Phoenix, Arizona this coming February. The other four major service secretary’s also held matches of the same type and combined, Mauldin finished 24th of 720 total entries.
This Olympic style event uses .177 caliber air rifles specifically designed for this style of competition. The rifles are restricted to certain cost and construction limits and are placed in a group known as the “sporter division”. Athletes do not wear any special gear and shoot with open, not scoped, sights at a target placed 10 meters down range. Competitions are conducted in three different positions called prone (laying down), standing and kneeling and there are a possible 200 points in each position, 600 per match. All competitors must complete a safety training course, pass an exam before spending numerous hours on the range perfecting the skills required for success.
The members of the 2019/2020 air rifle team include seniors Charlotte Welsh and Gabe Wentworth, Junior Trinaty Noble, and Sophomores Sarah Taylor, Savannah Eastler, Jason Cassandra and Sam Gardner. The team is coached by Mr. Robert Imm and CDR Denny Shelton.
By Commander Denny Shelton, USN (Ret)