After a record-breaking season followed by a disappointing loss in the European championship, the Patch High School precision air rifle team looks to its top shooters to end the year on a high note at the national level.
The Panthers broke a school system record Jan. 22 when they earned 1,415 out of 1,500 points during their final match of the season and entered the 2011 Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe marksmanship championship “shooting almost 80 points higher than any other team,” according to team coach Jack Wayne.
However, the team seemed to peak a little too early, as the two-time defending champions only took third place in the championship, held Jan. 29 in Baumholder.
The Hohenfels Tigers took first with 1,374 points, followed by Vilseck with 1,357 points, and Patch, trailing by one point, in third.
Patch junior Mercedes Romih took second place in the season point total championship with 1,399 points, following a point behind Kiley Schreurs of Ansbach with 1,400 points.
But the season isn’t over yet for the Panthers.
Five out of six Patch team members qualified for the 2011 U.S. Army JROTC Service Championship, scheduled for Feb. 17-19 in Anniston, Ala. The team will go into the championship seeded second, and has a second chance to take on Hohenfels, seeded fifth.
Wayne hopes the team will not only represent Patch High well in February, but be invited back in March for the Multi-Service Championships. “We think we can,” he said.
The Panthers have been working towards this goal all year, he added. “Every one of these kids has been shooting a minimum of three times a week since September.”
Romih, Patch’s top individual shooter for the year, added that the reason team has been so successful in recent years is because of practice standards during the season.
“We’re consistent,” she said. “We have the same schedule every week. We focus.”
Romih and her teammates hope to make Wayne proud at the Army JROTC championship as they finish out his last season; Wayne plans to retire this year after coaching rifle teams and teaching JROTC for 26 years. He has coached the Patch rifle team for the past five years.
“I think one of the motivators for them is [that] this is my last year,” Wayne said.
During his tenure, the team qualified for the European championships five times, won it twice and took the Army JROTC title once, in 2008.
In fact, the record Patch broke this year — 1,411 points — was set by Patch in 2008, the year they became Army-level champions.
PHS team captain Allie Carlson doesn’t see that as a coincidence.
“There’s a reason we do better than everybody else consistently — we have that leadership,” she said.
About precision air rifle
In precision air rifle competitions, shooters fire at targets about one and three-quarter inches wide in a 10-meter range. A bull’s-eye shot is worth 10 points. The shooter’s score is reduced by one point for every eighth of an inch off of the bull’s-eye.
Shooters fire 10 shots in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling. There are 100 individual points possible for each position. Teams combine the top five individual scores, for a maximum team score of 1,500 points.
In the national tournament, teams shoot every position twice.
To watch a live feed of the Panthers’ targets at the Army-level championship, visit cdcmp.com and click on the link for the Patch High School team, then click on an individual team member.