Fort Payne High School student Kristen Fowler addressed the board of education on Sept. 26 to tell about her recent experience with the JROTC Varsity 3-Position Air Rifle Team.
Lt. Col. John M. Walker, U.S. Army, Retired, JROTC Senior Army Instructor at Fort Payne, introduced Fowler at the meeting, emphasizing the dedication and athleticism required for students that participate in the marksmanship competitions.
“I do want to report and update the board on the progress of our Rifle Team,” Walker said. “We compete in 3-position air rifle matches, which we use compressed air rifles firing at targets 10 meters away approximately 30 feet away in a prone or lying position, kneeling position and standing. We either have a 3x10 which is 10 shots in each position or we fire in a 3x20 which is 20 shots in each position. These are high-level competitions and when they go to those high-level it’s usually two days worth of 3x20 competition.”
Fowler, a cadet captain with the FPHS JROTC, represented Fort Payne at the American Legion Nationals this summer in Colorado Springs, Colorado as one of only fifteen sporter-class shooters in the nation invited to the U.S. Olympic Shooting Sports venue. Fowler competed in July as the fifth shooter in the nation, Walker said.
Fowler was also awarded the Junior Distinguished Shooter Badge.
“These are the highest honor that most military and civilian rifle and pistol shooters can aspire to earn,” Walker said.
In 18 years of the program, only 1,447 shooters have earned the Junior Distinguished Shooter Badge.
“Kristen earns and holds badge number 1,420,” he said. “Devon Thomason who graduated in the spring, was the first to earn from Fort Payne High School. He holds badge number 1,417.”
To earn the badge, shooters must earn 30 Excellence in Competition points and 10 of the 30 must come from a national competition, Walker said.
Fowler gave the board an estimated amount of hours and amount of ammunition she has seen in practice.
“I calculated an estimate that I have been to 534 hours of practice,” Fowler said. “I also looked at the scores, seeing if they were 3x10s or 3x20s, and how many pellets I’ve shot in the last three years, and it’s estimated between 9,000 and 10,000. Each pellet weighs 7.1 grams, and so we multiplied that by how many pellets and converted it into grams. It was almost my body weight. It was unbelievable.”
Fowler said the team has been very important to her for the last few years.
“The Rifle Team has always been there for me and I’ll always be there for them,” she said. “It has got me through a lot through school.”