Zama Middle High School JROTC hosts marksmanship competition

Photo By Winifred Brown | Students from the Zama Middle High School, Yokota High School and Nile C. Kinnick High School varsity Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps marksmanship teams shoot during the Kanto Plain Invitational Three-Position Marksmanship Match at Camp Zama, Japan, Jan. 25, 2020.
January 28, 2020

CAMP ZAMA – Members of the Zama Middle High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Corps marksmanship team not only competed as a team in the Kanto Plain Invitational Three-Position Marksmanship Match here Jan. 25, they set up the equipment together too.

“Usually when we’re setting up, we have fun while at the same time getting stuff done,” said Rayczle Reyes, the team captain. And because they turn the work into a team bonding exercise, it ultimately helps them when it is time to pick up their rifles and shoot, he said.

Zama faced off against Nile C. Kinnick High School and Yokota High School during the match, and although Kinnick’s varsity team came in first and Zama placed third, the Zama junior varsity team placed first and the team performed well as a whole.

For example, Kasandra Rogers Santiago, a member of Zama’s varsity team, came in second individually in both matches, scoring 522 out of 600 points in the first match and 525.3 in the second.

In addition, Kailey Greidanus, a member of the Zama junior varsity team, was the top shooter overall in both junior varsity matches.

Toni Ludwig, a senior at Kinnick and last year’s Far East champion, won both varsity matches, scoring 547.5 in the first match and 551.4 in the second.

As they look forward to the rest of the season, Zama team members agreed they are steadily improving and enjoying themselves at the same time.

Santiago said this is her second year on a marksmanship team, and she recommends that her fellow students at Zama join the team because it is fun and everyone works well together.

“We have a little family here,” Santiago said.

Being a member of the Zama team has taught her how to shoot with consistency, Santiago said.

“I’ve learned over this past year how to shoot and do what’s best for me; that’s made me improve and do a lot better,” she said.

Reyes said members of the team practice for about two hours every day after school, with every member practicing three or four days out of the week.

Their strength is the bonds they have created hanging out together and collaborating for team success, Reyes said.

“I see the improvement that everyone’s been [making],” Reyes said.

Maximillian Brantley, a member of the varsity team, also noted that the team enjoyed setting up the gym for the match.

“The team here is great,” Brantley said. “When we were setting up in the gym it was just really good. I feel like we’ve bonded a lot this season. It was really fun.”

Brantley said he enjoys shooting because it is relaxing.

“It’s really good just to breathe in, take a deep breath and focus on one thing for 30 minutes,” Brantley said.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Danny Davis, a Zama JROTC instructor, said his team uses the Crossman Challenger pellet rifle, which is standard for Army JROTC teams.

Competitors shoot from the prone, kneeling and standing positions during competitions, Davis said, and the prone position is usually the easiest for most students, while standing is the most difficult.

Retired Lt. Col. Douglas Fields, the Zama JROTC program’s senior instructor, said that because marksmanship teams do not have as many competitions as basketball teams, for example, the match at Zama was the only one they would host this school year.

They will compete in three overall matches and then at the Far East competition, Fields said.

Fields said marksmanship is an important component of the JROTC program.

“What we try to teach them is concentration, to work on their breathing and their collaborative skills,” Fields said. “And then in the spring competition, being able to compete collectively.”

Fields said the team has been doing well this year and he looks forward to further improvement.

“I’m very proud of them,” he said.