Rifle team creates unique opportunities for students


Sam Silcock

Junior co-captain Nick Anthony ready to shoot a pellet rifle. The rifle team competes agaisnt both Atlanta Public School teams and other schools around Georgia.

Sam Silcock

It’s a regular morning in the JROTC hallway. Only a slight buzz is heard as students and staff members go about their days. *BANG* Suddenly the noises from air pellet rifles rip through the air from a room down the hallway. These are the sounds of the Midtown rifle team. 

To join Midtown’s rifle team students must undergo rigorous safety tests before trying out. 

Headcoach Sgt. Eric Fisher said safety is a top priority.

“First thing we have to do with students is make sure they surpass all the requirements in terms of safety and an understanding how to handle an [air] rifle,” Fisher said. “The key thing in this sport is safety; students have to pass a test in order to be registered and certified through Georgia sports association to even be able to to handle one of our rifles.” 

At first glance, the sport appears simple; cadets position themselves, close one eye, and shoot at their targets. However, there are several aspects that don’t catch the eye. 

“One of the hardest things is the breathing aspect,”Liam Doherty, senior  co-captain, said. “If you don’t regulate your breathing, it can really mess up your shot and hinder your performances. I sometimes even watch breathing technique videos to help make sure I won’t mess up.”

Some cadets even change their diets to help their shooting. 

“I know some people from previous years that literally just completely cut sugary foods out of their diets in order to steady their aim for riflery,” Doherty said. “I personally think if you focus you should be fine, but some people claim that changing their diets really improved their shooting.” 

Cadets work with 3.5 millimeter targets that have a 1-10 point scale. Junior co-captain Nick Anthony  enjoys the different equipment found in the sport. 

“Riflery has a lot of cool stuff that we get to utilize,” Anthony said. “The ranges are lit so you can see the target, even with the lights dimmed. In actual competition, there are three different positions you shoot from, standing, kneeling and prone. Finding out the best shooting techniques for each one is definitely a challenge, but it’s fun once you get it.” 

Fisher hopes to expand the roster this upcoming season

“The initial inception of this program is that it’s primarily geared towards kids that are a part of JROTC, but [over]the years, the association has opened up towards everyone,” Fisher said. “Last time we had a season there were only 5 or six people on the team. I’m hoping this upcoming year, with the right marketing towards kids in the school increase that.”

The team competes in the Atlanta Public Schools riflery division, facing off against teams in the metro Atlanta area. The team also competes against schools all across Georgia. 

“I have relatively high expectations for my team coming   into this season;I think we’ll have a strong group that will be able to take any challenge that comes their way,” Fisher said. “I want us to have the capacity to be able to compete at our division level, but maybe beyond that at state and even nationals.” 

Doherty enjoys the challenge the sport provides.

“Riflery is a very different sport compared to other ones here at Midtown,” Doherty said. “The mental fortitude and overall strength required gives participants a really cool change of pace, and hopefully, with the correct marketing, we can get the word out there.”