European Rifle Champs head Stateside
February 16, 2011
By Mark Iacampo
- "It just has to be you and the rifle."
- "It's great when the smallest school in the competition can win over the big schools."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Fresh off their victory at the 2011 DODDS-Europe marksmanship championship in Baumholder last month, the Hohenfels Tigers head to the U.S. this week to compete in the 2011 Army JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) Service championships in Anniston, Ala., Feb. 18-19.
Of the 64 teams that compete across the nation, the top 16 are eligible for the championships. The Tigers are seeded fifth, but as European champs, as well as the Eastern Conference champs, they are aiming high.
"We are so excited," said Erin Redden, team co-captain, about their recent victory. "This only boosts up our confidence even more."
Hohenfels has had a spectacular year. While maintaining their 15-season streak as Eastern Conference champions, they lost only one match this year. At the recent European championships, four of the day's top 10 shooters were Tigers.
"It's great when the smallest school in the competition can win over the big schools," said coach Bruce Andrews.
Redden and fellow Tiger Keyera Howard led the team at the European's, with matching scores of 276. Hohenfels took the title with a team score of 1374, besting Vilseck by 17 points, and leaving early favorite Patch in third.
With their sights now set on the Service championships, Redden is hoping to draw on her previous experience at the stateside championships to help the team.
"I was fortunate enough to go last year with three seniors, and that was just a complete learning experience for me," she said. "You walk in and you're just like, oh my gosh! I mean, the range is 80 lanes on each side! I'm really excited to go this year now that I have more experience under my belt. I feel more prepared. I know what to expect and how everything's done."
The two day competition involves shooters firing from three positions, kneeling, prone, and standing. Each team fields four shooters, and the lowest score is discarded. While a normal meet comprises 10 shots in each position, the championship requires 20. Then, they repeat the process on the second day.
Andrews said after learning the mechanics, 90percent of marksmanship is mental. He said a good shooter visualizes the perfect site alignment, trigger squeeze, and breath control.
"Well over half your time is spent in mental preparation before you ever pick up the rifle," he said.
"It's something you have to train yourself for," Redden added. "You need to calm your body when you shoot, and there can't be any stress in your muscles. It just has to be you and the rifle."
As one of the team captains, Redden uses her experience to help guide newer members.
"People have tons of questions every day and sometimes coach can't answer them," said Redden. "They want it from another shooter's point of view, or from a girl's point of view, because we have more girls on the team than guys. It's really a leadership thing."
An avid soccer player, Redden at first didn't see the draw behind marksmanship.
"I'm like, yeah, standing around shooting rifles' But the more rewarding thing, you don't just win as a team, you win as an individual. You can feel the success when you improve each week."
"When I first started doing rifle my parents were like, 'why are you doing rifle''" said Redden. "But by the end of the season, they're like, all in it and everything else. I think they're more passionate about me doing rifle than me doing soccer."
Redden's parents followed last year's Service championships online, and Tiger fans can again catch all the action at the Civilian Marksmanship Program's (CMP) website at: www.odcmp.com.
"There is live viewing of the targets," said Katie Harrington, CMP program coordinator. "What we do is we put up the images of our targets as they are being shot." She said the names of the shooters will be displayed and linked to a window with their shot groups and their ongoing totals.
Besides Redden and Howard, other team members making the trip to the championships include co-captain Rene Bourgeois, Caroline Bourgeois, and Kathleen Waldron.