Patriot sharpshooters hit No. 1 spot in nation

August 5, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Liberty High School air rifle team members Sean Denson (left), Jacky Cheung, John Lorenz, Murphy Ransier and Tyler Snook are the scholastic military champions after placing first at the NRA Air Gun competition. By Art Weatherford

After an incredible show of teamwork, Liberty High School’s National Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps placed first nationwide as scholastic military champions at the National Rifle Association Air Gun Competition June 23-25.

“As a team, they scored better than any other team in the nation,” Liberty naval science instructor Al Torstenson said.

Five Liberty air rifle team students — including graduating seniors Tyler Snook, Jackie Chueng and Murphy Ransier, incoming senior John Lorenz and incoming junior Sean Denson — flew to Camp Perry, Ohio, for the championship.

The coaches, Art Weatherford and senior naval science instructor Cmdr. Dan Joslin, accompanied the team.

Though the students won first place, “probably everything that could go wrong, went wrong,” such as equipment malfunctions, Weatherford said. But, “It wasn’t anything the kids weren’t able to rise to.”

The NRA competition is similar to the championships at the Olympics. Each student has a time limit and uses an air rifle to shoot a total of 60 pellets from three different positions — standing, kneeling and prone (students lying on their stomachs to shoot).

The target is 33 feet away from the firing line and has a bull’s eye that is a half-millimeter big.

“That’s like shooting across the classroom at a pencil dot,” Weatherford said. “This sport is probably about 90 percent mental and being able to concentrate. As long as they’re able to stay in that zone and focus, our kids do really well.”

The Liberty team was inspected the first day of the competition and participated during the second two days. They earned first place as scholastic military champions for having the highest level of accuracy.

Liberty’s air rifle team practices three times per week during the school year. Lorenz, who joined the team as a freshman, said he and his classmates enjoyed competing in Ohio.

“It was a lot of fun,” Lorenz said. “When we go as a team, we just try to have fun and do our best.”

More than 200 students — about 45 teams — participated in the NRA competition, including youths from Junior ROTC groups, gun clubs or individual competitors.

Several groups helped pay for the Liberty team’s trip to Ohio, including the Renton Gun Club and the Veterans of Foreign War posts in Issaquah and Renton. Students also collected brass and received money for recycling it.

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