CAMP ZAMA, Japan – More than 70 cadets are competing in a two-day marksmanship match, the largest of which to be held at Zama Middle High School in years.
The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps competition, which ends Saturday, includes cadets from all eight Department of Defense Education Activity high schools across the country.
“This year is unique because we’re [inviting] all of the Japan schools,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Danny Davis, a Zama JROTC instructor who helped organize the invitational event.
In the competition, varsity and junior varsity students will compete by firing pellet rifles at paper targets inside the school’s gym in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling.
Events like these typically have been held virtually in recent years due to the pandemic. Zama’s event was the second in-person match after MC Perry High School hosted the first one of the winter season. Davis said the Zama match has more cadets and is the largest held at the school in at least the past five years he has been there.
“It’s a team effort,” he said of the event, which has 20 target lanes for competitors. “Our teams set up the range and will tear it down tomorrow.”
Sophomore Kristaleen Fugrad, captain of the Zama varsity team, said these events can be tense but still enjoyable.
“I’m shaking a lot,” she joked of when she prepares to zero in on a target. “It’s fun and kind of nerve-racking at times.”
Fugrad, who said she and others practice these skills for hours after each school day, said her team has invested a lot of time into the sport, so they don’t want to back down during competitions.
“It’s good to compete against others and for bragging rights,” she said.
Sophomore Daniel Denson, a fellow team member, said the “will to win” helps keep him motivated.
“We definitely don’t want to be at the bottom,” he said. “We want see ourselves at the top.”
He said the events are also a great opportunity to meet cadets from other schools.
“Since this is just a JROTC sport, it’s nice to see other people who have the same interests as us,” he said.
Marksmanship is about more than hitting a bullseye on a small, black round target. While the in-person event may bring some extra pressure, Davis said cadets must stay disciplined and focused.
“It’s about taking your time and patiently shooting,” he said, adding cadets learn how to manage their time and stress as well as pay attention to detail. “There are a bunch of life skills they can learn in shooting.”
Competitors plan to travel to South Korea early next month to vie in the Far East marksmanship match.
To see results of the most recent match, visit www.orionresults.com/zama.