Five Webb City JROTC rifle team members practice at their range for the last time before departing for the Junior Olympic National Championships. At the top of the picture is a digital clock that lets them know how much of the 25 minutes they’re allowed to complete each sequence is left.

JROTC rifle team competes this weekend in Junior Olympic National Rifle Championships

Bailey Russell glances at her targets while retrieving them to be scored.

Here’s an example of a bullseye, when the center dot – the width of a lead pellet – disappears.

Team has already placed 9th in JROTC National Championships

Webb City JROTC’s top five marksmen are on their way today to Camp Perry, Ohio, where they’ll compete Friday and Saturday in the Junior Olympic National Championships.

Dustin Elder, Lt. Col. (retired), leads the team, which includes three recent graduates, Lauren Gilpin, Bailey Russell, and Jager Carter, incoming senior Zach Chronister, and incoming junior Gabe Elder.

It’s a team with earned confidence. They qualified for nationals in January at the Missouri Junior Olympics, and they’re unofficially ranked in the top 20 nationally.

Dustin Elder explains that it’s been tough winning first-place trophies in this area because their main competitor, Ozark, placed first in the recent JROTC National Rifle Championships.

Webb City placed ninth at JROTC Nationals.

First and ninth in the nation, “that’s pretty good for two southwest Missouri schools,” says Elder.

The Junior Olympic Nationals are different from the JROTC Nationals because they are open to all teams, not just those connected to the Army.

Elder says reaching the national level requires patience, discipline and consistency. “Everything’s got to be the same or they’ll shoot differently.”

Consistency requires consistent practice. “We practice four days a week (since August),” says Elder. “That’s why this program has started to win a little more.”

For updates on the competition, go to the team’s Facebook page.

The team is expected arrive back at WCHS at approximately 4 p.m. Monday.

Gabe Elder’s solid stance – elbow resting on hip, free hand steadying her air rifle – is crucial to success. There are two other competitive positions, prone and kneeling.

Lt. Col. Dustin Elder uses a special scanner and computer program to quickly score the targets in order to provide timely feedback to the shooters.

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