Team takes aim at the best
By Christina White – The Union-Recorder
For the first time, Georgia Military College has an all-girl rifle team, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
Seniors Noel Keck and Emily Hollomon, sophomore Chelsea Beriault and freshman Erika Ethridge practice shooting for about two hours four days a week, and sometimes on weekends, during the school year to prepare for a state competition they attended in March.
Although the competition is over and high school sports regulations prevent the girls from practicing as a team again until September, the team still enjoys the prestige of being one of only two all-girl teams in Georgia.
Shooting is Title IX, so it is open to both males and females, but the majority of participants in the sport are boys, Coach Ron Crawford said.
\”Girls have a better disposition for shooting than boys. They can concentrate better than boys can. I\’ll take a girl any time,\” he said. \”The girls can shoot just as good or better than boys.\”
Rifle shooting is harder than people think, the girls and Crawford said, because it takes an immense amount of concentration and discipline.
\”It builds your ability to concentrate. It makes them better students because they are able to concentrate better. All these girls are exceptionally smart,\” Crawford said.
The rifles the girls use operate on air, use pellets instead of real bullets and cost around $1,500. They weigh about 12 pounds, and each shooter must position it on their body so their bones carry the weight of the gun instead of their muscles.
Relying on muscles to hold the gun in position can cause them to become tired and shake or quiver, thus making aiming more difficult and shooting less accurate, Crawford said.
The girls shoot at targets on a piece of paper a little larger than a standard size notebook, each of the marks are the size of a pin head and shooters must stand 10 meters (33 feet) from the target.
Each of the girls joined the team for different reasons. Both Beriault and Ethridge heard how much their friends enjoyed it the year before and decided to give shooting a try.
Keck said she has been shooting since she was a little girl.
\”I love the outdoors. I\’ve shot ever since I was 12 years old. I like to shoot,\” she said.
Hollomon said Crawford recruited her in the 10th grade during a marksmanship class.
\”I\’d never picked up a gun before in my life. It\’s a new experience,\” she said.
Being females in a male-dominated sport does not bother the girls at all.
\”It makes me smirk because we shoot just as good as the rest of them,\” Holloman said.
\”It kind of shocks people to see girls shooting guns,\” Keck said, adding the boys sometimes joke with them, saying \’Don\’t make her mad or she\’ll shoot you.\’\”
Crawford said most boys do not even talk about the girl shooters because they are afraid the girls will be able to shoot better than they can.
\”They just don\’t like the idea of girls being able to outshoot them. It embarrasses them a little,\” he said.
\”Most of the boys on rifle teams have learned not to disregard the girls. A lot of (other) teams\’ top shooters are girls. That\’s a fact,\” he added.
Although they did not win the state competition in March, it nonetheless prepared the girls for future endeavors.
\”That was good training for them to have that high level of competition. They all did a good job,\” Crawford said.
Keck is so talented, she received a scholarship from North Carolina State University to join their rifle team in the fall when she graduates high school.
Chelsea Beriault shoots around 270 out of a possible 300 after only her first year.
\”That\’s unheard of for a first-year shooter,\” Crawford said.
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