Riflery: The Great Equalizer

Members+of+the+riflery+team+compete+for+first+place.+Photo+Credit%3A+Yuriy+Soroka

Members of the riflery team compete for first place. Photo Credit: Yuriy Soroka

Claire Mulkey, Director of Communications

Riflery is something of a secret at Roswell High School, often flying under the radar. Roswell’s riflery team is coached by Sergeant Marino, a JROTC teacher at RHS. They have practices from fall to spring and have matches on Thursdays. Their last meet was scheduled for February 18, but it unfortunately was canceled. 

The name of the team can be a little misleading. Competitors actually shoot air rifles at paper targets in the three positions for shooting: standing, kneeling, and prone. To win, the scores of the top four shooters are combined to form one team score. The National JROTC Competition   The team competes with other teams around Georgia in their matches and have even sent students to the GHSA state championship. In 2019, Roswell student Anusha Pakkam actually won second place in the state with an individual score of 393.6. 2019 GHSA Riflery State Championship Her skill in riflery no doubt helps her at West Point, where she attends college. 

The GHSA state championship for riflery was canceled last year due to the pandemic. However, in 2019, the athlete who scored a 401 to beat out Roswell’s Pakkam for state champion was Ware County student Laci Jewell. Her high school won its third straight state championship that day. The AJC compiled a list of the top 10 teams in the state and the top five shooters of those 10 schools. Names like Laci, Evelyn, Ana, Sydney, Morgan, Megan, and Kaya topped the lists for their schools, perhaps surprising those who consider shooting a male-dominated sport. 

Veronica Soroka, 11, has been on the team since her freshman year. She got into the sport because her dad “competed all over Europe, so he was a huge inspiration and encouraged [her] to try it out.” Soroka’s older sister, who has since graduated, was also a member of the team. Even though Soroka has been practicing for years, she still considers herself a beginner. Soroka says that “some people think that riflery is easy and does not take skill, but in reality it is very hard to master.” 

Georgia is rare in that the GHSA recognizes riflery as a sanctioned sport. Many other states consider riflery to be a “niche sport,” usually run through a school club. Riflery in High School. Riflery is not a sport that garners much attention from the student body, but it has benefits that other athletes may want to pick up on. Soroka says “breathing and keeping a steady heart rate” are skills practiced in riflery. Both of these can be extremely helpful for other sports, especially those that require running, like cross country and basketball, or those that need concentration, like tennis. 

Though riflery may be a sport unfamiliar to the student body, Soroka encourages everyone interested “to not be afraid to try it and come on down to the range or talk with a coach…even if it seems weird or intimidating at first.” Riflery is “a great sport,” Soroka says, and is also one of the only sports where gender differences do not mean performance disparities. Gender and physical appearance play virtually no role in riflery, leveling the playing field, or should I say shooting range, for all.  

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The team transitions to the floor, shooting from the ground. Photo credit: Yuriy Soroka

 

Check out this Sting article to read about another, lesser-known RHS team:

The Roswell Fencing Team