Fort Payne Shooters take back North Alabama Rifle League Championship

North Alabama Rifle League Champions are pictured, kneeling, left to right, Kristen Fowler, Jade Robison, Ibet Perez, and Lilly Sparks; standing left to right, are Austin Bone, Dylan Sparks, Devin Thomason, Caleb Stalvey and LTC Walker.

The Fort Payne High School JROTC varsity 3-Position Air Rifle (3-PAR) shooters proved themselves once again and re-captured the North Alabama Rifle League (NARL) Championship title after losing if briefly last year to Sparkman High School. The 3x20 competition (20 shots in each of three positions: prone, standing, and kneeling fired at a range of 10 meters or 33 feet with a 10-shot standing finals for the top eight finishers) was recently held at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s 80-firing point indoor air rifle range in Anniston. The team brought home 10 team and individual trophies firing against the 15 schools in the league.

“I am exceptionally proud that even our four-person junior varsity shooters out shot everyone in the competition save the Fort Payne and Sparkman varsity teams,” said Fort Payne High School

JROTC Senior Army Instructor John Walker.

“Of the four varsity team shooters, Kristen Fowler earned the gold as top shooter, Jade Robinson was second, and Devin Thomason third. Ibet Perez finished in 5th place after climbing up from the 8th position during the 10-shot standing finals. Dylan Sparks earned his JROTC Expert Rifleman’s badge at this competition as a member of the JV team which also consisted of Austin Bone, Lilly Sparks, and Caleb Stalvey. ”

This match capped the strongest season ever recorded in Fort Payne High School Rifle Team history. The four-person varsity team was undefeated in the NARL with a record of 15-0. =In addition to their success in the northern half of the state, the varsity shooters qualified for the Alabama State Championship and earned silver medals in second place just behind the state Champions, Enterprise High School.

Varsity shooters Thomason, Fowler, Robison, Perez, and alternate Caleb Stalvey, finished 3rd overall in the JROTC Army Service Southeast Regionals. This is the first time Fort Payne ever medaled at this level of competition competing against 19 teams representing 10 southeastern states and qualifying for the JROTC Nationals for the first time in school history while besting the only other Alabama team in the competition, which was Enterprise High School.

The Fort Payne varsity shooters, representing American Legion Post 30, next competed in the Alabama American Legion Commander’s Cup Invitational held at the CMP Range in Anniston. There, Fort Payne swept the match by once again defeating the Enterprise team to capture the Commander’s Cup. During this match, Fowler took individual gold, Thomason the silver, and Robison the bronze.

The varsity team also later qualified for the CMP Southeast Regionals, where Kristen Fowler qualified as an individual shooter for the CMP Nationals, held 27-29 June in Camp Perry, Ohio. Kristen finished in the top 10 percent of nearly 300 of the nation’s best sporter-class competitors from across the country. Teams and individuals from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii traveled to Ohio to compete in the National Junior Olympics Championship and the CMP National 3-Position Air Rifle Championships.

Kristen Fowler also earned the right to represent Fort Payne at the American Legion Nationals, 23-28 July in Colorado Springs, Colorado as one of only fifteen Sporter-class shooters in the nation invited to the US Olympic Shooting Sports venue. Fowler is currently the No. 5 seed for this competition.

“She continues to work very hard in preparing for this competition and has every intention to reach the podium this month in Colorado,” Walker said. “She has already earned the CMP’s Junior Distinguished Shooter Badge to become the second Fort Payne student to earn this honor.”

Devin Thomason, a graduated senior and former rifle team captain, earned the Distinguished Shooter status this spring and both shooters will be recognized by the Fort Payne City Board of Education at their August meeting.

“Considering that Devin Thomason is the only senior we lost from the team this year and that Kristen Fowler is one of the top 15 shooters in the nation, I feel fairly confident that Fort Payne will continue to dominate 3-Position Air Rifle competition in the State of Alabama next season,” Walker said.

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