Ontelaunee Jr. Rifle Team update
Four members of the Ontelaunee Junior Rifle Team recently competed at the Junior Olympics in Colorado. From left are Jeanne Haverill, Madilyn Riegel, Coach Tom Fister, Calista Smoyer and Emma Rhode. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Junior Rifle Team member Calista Smoyer uses electronic technology during practice last week at Ontelaunee Rod & Gun Club. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The lime green line is a squiggle, starting high and meandering lower, its sweeps from right to left lessening, tightening as the line makes its way to the center of the target.
Viewed by a novice, the line is an art form; viewed by the person who made it, the line is a teaching tool to improve marksmanship. It's a relatively new tool for the Ontelaunee Rod & Gun Club's Junior Rifle Team, which returned last week from competing in the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Four members of the team made the trip: Southern Lehigh High School junior Jeanne Haverill, Northwestern Lehigh sophomore Madilyn Riegel, Northern Lehigh sophomore Calista Smoyer and Kutztown Area Middle School seventh-grader Emma Rhode.
Jenn Plocinik, a Lehighton graduate who is currently a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Martin, also joined the team in Colorado. (In her first year of collegiate competition, Jenn was her team's MVP and also a Scholastic All-American). Coaches Tom Fister, Tab Riegel (Madilyn's dad) and Mike Weaver, along with parents, accompanied the team.
In Colorado, Emma was the team's top shooter in three-position small bore rifle, placing fourth in her age group. Madilyn and Calista also had great performances, finishing 13th and 14th in the intermediate age group. Calista, Emma and Jenn were among the 180 juniors who participated in the international women's air rifle match. Calista was the team's top performer, finishing 59th overall and 15th in her age group. In addition to competing, the team did some sightseeing and attended seminars, including one by Ginny Thrasher, who won the gold medal in air rifle in the Olympics. They also attended a seminar by Olympian Matt Emmons (now the unofficial "boyfriend" of the female members of the team).
During practice last week, Calista opted to shoot using the electronic target system. The path she takes with her rifle as she settles on target is traced electronically, and reflected by the squiggly green line. She and Fister studied the line and her shot placement and arrived at the same conclusion - she should trust herself to take the shot when she's on target.
Calista took her first shots while attending a JAKES event (youth field day sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation) held at Ontelaunee.
"I shot a .22 and I really liked it," she said. "I found out about the team and have been on it for about three years."
The team has been very successful, and has earned it - with practices two nights a week and matches nearly every weekend. The hard work has been evident given the team's many successes, aided by some of the newest team members, Lower Macungie Middle School sixth grader Griffin Lake and Emmaus Middle School sixth grader Chad Grafe. The Junior Rifle Team won the Lehigh Valley Indoor Prone League for the 6th consecutive year. The team also did an awesome job at the CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) Regional Air Rifle Championships in Camp Perry, Ohio, in March. Ontelaunee sent two four-person teams. The top scoring team was Calista, Madilyn, Emma, and Jeanne. They won the two-day match and placed 2nd among all 3 of the National Regions. Our 2nd team, Sarah Frantz, Abbie Boyer, Quintin Lawley, and Jake, came in 15th place, and 29th Nationally.
Calista was ranked 1st after the two days of competition, and Madilyn was 8th. They both moved on to the final top eight shoot off. Calista held her lead in the final, and won the overall gold medal. Madilyn had a solid performance and shot her way right up to the 6th overall position. Other team members fired personal best scores throughout both days.
This coming June, Ontelaunee will send two Junior Rifle teams to the CMP National Air Rifle Championships, held again at Camp Perry, Ohio. For more info about the Junior Rifle Team, visit www.ontelaunee.org.