Walla Walla High School JROTC Rifle Marksmanship Team began its competitive season this year by hosting the eastern Washington qualifying match for the US Army Junior Air Rifle Championship.
The match has the potential to qualify teams and individuals for the USAJARC National Championship, held in Fort Benning, Georgia in January. 52 shooters form all over eastern Washington traveled from as far as five hours distant to compete for honors and a berth at the national match.
Sporter class shooters fired a 60-shot match that included 20 shots prone, 20 shots standing and 20 shots from the kneeling position for a total of 600 possible points. Taking first place at the match was Walla Walla's Cadet First Sergeant Braden Salcedo who fired a combined score of 509 including an astounding kneeling score of 181 out of 200. “I wasn’t really keeping score while I was shooting,” Salcedo said after finishing his relay. “After I was finished shooting people were asking me how I thought I had done and I couldn’t even guess at my score.” According to Wa-Hi Rifle Coach Mark Mebes, that’s a good thing. “Shooters have a tendency to get wrapped up in keeping score during a match. It distracts them from their shot routine and starts making them overthink and overhold. If an athlete can go inside their bubble and just treat every shot the same, they always get better results.” Mebes said.
Walla Walla's sporter team won the match with a score of 1887 out of 2400, edging out the Colville Valley Sharpshooters. Walla Walla's sporter team included Cadet Captain Spencer Carlyle, Cadet First Sergeant Braden Salcedo, Cadet First Sergeant Chris Davin and Cadet Sergeant Jacob Bradshaw.
In the Precision class, the match consisted of 60 shots, all from the standing position and was won by Wa-Hi-'s Cadet Captain Daniel Enger who garnered 578 out of 600 to edge out Spokane Rifle Club's Taylor Christian by a scant two points.
Spokane Rifle Club's Gold Team took first place with a combined score of 2283 out of 2400, topping Walla Walla's 2251 combined total. Senior cadets Enger and Cadet Major Justin Mebes (556) anchored the team. "We had some really bright spots today," Mebes said. "We graduated a lot of seniors last year and have an almost entirely new precision team this season. Sophomore cadet Sergeants Brock Betzler (563), Audrey Keenan (554) and Madeline Steinle (552) all shot over 550 today, which is fantastic for their first all-offhand match."
"We surpassed the goals that we had set for this first match," Team Captain Enger said. "We are looking forward to next week's match in Redmond, Oregon. I think we will be going into it with a lot of confidence after this weekend."