JROTC marksmanship shoots for success


Photo Courtesy of Kayla Gibbon

Junior James Bisone practices in the renovated bluebonnet portable. The portable is equipped with custom targets, racks for airsoft guns and a competition board.

Mars Canepa, Online Managing Editor

Safety off. Hands steady. Finger on the trigger. Eyes locked right on target. Sophomore Ryan Gualandri holds his rifle with firm conviction. He takes his first shot as if it were another of the countless he had practiced in the portable. Gualandri quickly prepares himself for the next shot. This is his moment to shine, and he will not be deterred.

The Bowie marksmanship team had a strong showing at a nationwide competition hosted in North Carolina on the weekend of March 26. Many members received personal bests, including sophomore A.J. Sloan, senior Dylan Keefer-Bornsen, sophomore Ryan Gualandri, and sophomore Dylan Hernandez.

“Everyone’s friendly and really willing to give tips,” Gualandri said. “Everyone’s there to help each other out, if you’re wobbling too much [they’ll give you] tips and stuff like that.”

The team is mostly student-led, supervised by coach Frank Rich. Members practice with airsoft guns in a portable equipped with shooting targets. This in-house training has benefited the team considerably.

“The one thing that is great about the way we’ve competed this year where we’re able to use our own facility, and then take our targets and then send them off where they’re centrally scored,” Rich said, “We can see where we stack up against teams from as far away as Alaska.”

The insight given via the shooting range has helped the team grow in considerable ways, especially for its younger students.

“In the fall semester, our best shooters were our seniors,” Rich said. “To see the sophomores improve to a level where they’ve actually [started] to score higher than those seniors definitely looks really good for us as they head into their junior year and then their senior year. I think we’re gonna have a lot of success going forward.”

Through the team’s support, members are able to improve in their shooting. However, there is still room for rivalry within the team that pushes the cadets forward.

“[There’s a lot of] friendly competition within the unit,” Keefer-Bornsen said. “We have a board in our room that has scoring for who’s doing the best. And so since we finished our last competition, we’re gonna have a unit competition where we compete against each other. I think that’s mostly what it is. It’s just a friendly competition among ourselves.”

As a senior, this is Keefer-Bornsen’s final year in the program. He hopes future cadets are inspired by the team’s performance this year.

“[I hope that] they see the success we have and that will encourage people to join the program,” Keefer-Bornsen said. “It’s not really divided amongst skill. We have some freshmen that are the best and we have some sophomores that are just right behind them, and some seniors who are right there as well. so it’s really more of putting in the effort and understanding even though we just restarted the organization we can do really well with it. So [keep] that momentum going forward.”