Steady Hands, Focused Minds: The Precision of Air Force Junior ROTC Cadets in Marksmanship Competition

  • Published
  • By Keith H. Bland, AFJROTC Public Affairs

Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from across the southern United States converged on Anniston, Ala. from Feb. 8-10 to compete in the Civilian Marksmanship Program JROTC Regional Championships. Anniston was one of three sites to host JROTC regional events, the others being Sandy, Utah and Camp Perry, Ohio.

16 AFJROTC units representing seven states including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida attended the competition. Teams were invited to compete in Anniston based on their performance at previous events this school year.

The AFJROTC Team from Ronald Reagan High School from Pfafftown, N.C. won the Regional Championship in the Sporter Division with an aggregate score of 4,165, and Cherokee High School from Canton, Ga. prevailed in the Precision Division with a score of 4,583. Individual champions were also crowned in each division, with Veronica Hernandez from South Panola High School (Miss.) winning the Sporter Division and Amy Filippone from North Gwinnett High School (Ga.) winning the Precision Division.

For those unfamiliar with competitive marksmanship, the matches require competitors to fire multiple rounds at a 10-meter target from three different positions: prone, kneeling, and standing. “Sporter” division competitors use an un-modified, entry-level air rifle and wear street clothes. “Precision” division athletes use modified air rifles and wear specialized jackets, trousers, and footwear that are intended to aid in a more stable shooting position.

When cadets from Cherokee High School were asked how participating in marksmanship had helped them, Cadet Kaylin Mayhue said, “It’s definitely taught me patience and mind over matter.” Cadet Taylor Souksavath added: “It has honestly done so much for me, not only socially but mentally—it’s helped me mature a lot.”  She added, “I have matured and grown as a person so much. Because of JROTC, I have learned to control myself. I’ve developed a lot of leadership, maturity--the people are so amazing. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without this program.”

Mayhue added that AFJROTC has given her and others “a place to fit in… I feel like in JROTC, there’s no one that’s an outcast—everyone’s part of the group, and if someone seems like they’re an outcast, we’ll bring them in and make sure they feel welcome too.”

When asked about how they’d advise younger cadets who were considering participating in marksmanship, Cadet Ryan Richard said, “Don’t give up! You’ve always got to have something to work for. You’re going to have good days, and you’re going to have bad days, but on those bad days, still know that there are good days to come.”

The team from Ronald Reagan High School discussed their thought processes and how they’ve grown as a team, indicating they owed their success to the dedication of their coaches and consistent thought processes, journaling, and goalsetting. Cadet Kylie Kinnamon elaborated, “With this team, honestly, our Junior ROTC is very much like a family. It’s definitely taught a lot of patience. It also teaches you resilience—for those bad days or bad shots, learning how to let it go… and being able to move forward and apply that to your next experience.”  The team adopted a new mantra this year: “Steady Hands, Focused Minds, Never Miss!” Improving from a ninth-place finish at last year’s competition to winning their division this year, it’s clear that the cadets at Reagan have taken this mantra to heart.

Below are the results for the team and individual competitions:

Sporter Class Teams:

1st Place – NC-20051, Ronald Reagan High School

2nd Place – MS-081, South Panola High School

3rd Place – FL-9313, Bloomingdale High School

4th Place – FL-20083, Walter L. Sickles High School

5th Place – FL-20056, H. B. Plant High School

6th Place – LA-801, Haughton High School

7th Place – TX-20082, Sandra Day O’Connor High School

8th Place – TX-20062, The Woodlands High School

9th Place – TX-801, Burleson High School

10th Place – GA-20054, Northgate High School

Precision Class Team:

1st Place – GA-953, Cherokee High School

Individual Awards in the Sporter Class:

1st Place – Cadet Veronica Hernandez, MS-081, South Panola High School

2nd Place – Cadet Kylie Kinnamon, NC-20051, Ronald Reagan High School

3rd Place – Cadet Anna Edwards, NC-20051, Ronald Reagan High School

4th Place – Cadet Taelor Velose, SC-951, Clover High School

5th Place – Cadet Kayla Briggs, LA-801, Haughton High School

6th Place – Cadet Angelo Arena, FL-9313, Bloomingdale High School

7th Place – Cadet Danielle Donis, FL-20056, H. B. Plant High School

8th Place – Cadet Zari Lewis, FL-20083, Walter L. Sickles High School

Individual Awards in the Precision Class:

1st Place – Cadet Amy Filippone, GA-935, North Gwinnett High School

2nd Place – Cadet Sydney Watson, GA-953, Cherokee High School

3rd Place – Cadet Kaylin Mayhue, GA-953, Cherokee High School

4th Place – Cadet Cy Curtiss, GA-953, Cherokee High School

5th Place – Cadet James Goede, FL-20083, Walter L. Sickles High School

6th Place – Cadet Ryan Richard, GA-953, Cherokee High School

7th Place – Cadet Taylor Souksavath, GA-953, Cherokee High School