JROTC rifle team member headed to national competition
Team competes at regionals
Madras High sophomore and JROTC cadet Aubrey Dahlke is headed to the National JROTC Shooting Championship contest March 27, after taking second place at the regional contest.
The MHS JROTC precision air rifle team was ranked seventh in the nation when it left to participate in the Western Region Championship last month at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Team members include team captain Tyler Fording and Chelsey Nida, both seniors, and Charles Lockridge and Aubrey Dahlke, both sophomores. The team is coached by JROTC instructor Paul Viscaino.
Out of some 6,000 JROTC cadets competing, the MHS team earned a spot at the regionals by scoring in the top 11 percent through targets shot at the school, then mailed in for scanning and scoring.
The team's trip to the Western Regionals was sponsored through donations from the Madras Elks, Madras Lions, Jefferson County Rotary, Madras Kiwanis, the Bean Foundation and individuals, Viscaino said.
It was a doubly new experience for two of the team members, Lockridge and Nida, who had never flown on a plane before.
"Our team is the number one JROTC team in Oregon," Viscaino said, explaining that at the contests they shoot pellets at targets from a distance of 10 meters (33 feet). "They shoot 10 shots in a prone position, 10 from a standing position and 10 in a kneeling position," he said.
While in Colorado, the students also got the chance to visit the Air Force Academy at Fort Carson, Colo., the Garden of the Gods, and the Olympic Training Center, where many athletes were already training for the summer games.
Those who do well as a team or as individuals advance on to the national championship. While the MHS team did not place, Dahlke moved from third to second place at the regionals, "And the person who got first place was only seven points ahead of her," Viscaino noted.
The national finals will be held at Fort Benning, Ga., with the top shooters from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines branches of JROTC, coming from all over the U.S. and from military bases in Europe and Japan to compete.
Viscaino mentioned the trip to the national contest will be completely funded by the federal government.
Dahlke said she didn't think she would be nervous at the finals. "It will be different, but I'm experienced," she said.
Viscaino said a lot of people don't realize that precision air rifle shooting is a National Collegiate Athletic Association sport at the university level, and students who are good shots can get college scholarships.
"Aubrey is only a sophomore and colleges are already interested in her," he said, adding, "A lot of colleges will be watching shooters at the nationals."