ANSBACH, GERMANY -- School year 20-21 has seen many changes; one positive change was the opportunity for Ansbach Middle School students in 8th grade to earn high school credit by taking Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) as an elective. This course was initially a pilot program and the positive outcome has led to other DoDEA-Europe schools implementing the course for their 8th graders. DoDEA-Europe also allowed 8th graders to join the high school marksmanship team.
In the past Ansbach High School and DoDEA European Schools have only shot Olympic or college style air rifle shooting called precision class. This year with the addition of 8th grade students into JROTC, DoDEA-Europe allowed them to join the junior varsity team. With so much interest from so many athletes on the junior varsity team, the sporter class was started. Sporter class is an introductory way for students to learn college and Olympic style shooting while keeping the cost down. It is supported by Cadet Command which provides the air rifles and equipment for students, and no uniforms are used. The Army Instructor, Master Sergeant (Retired) Christopher Buchanan started in the fall by introducing all new Cadets to marksmanship in the classroom. Eight of the 14 eighth graders joined the fall air-rifle club and practiced 3 days a week learning the prone, standing and kneeling positions.
MSG(Ret) Buchanan explains, “The mission of the Ansbach Middle High School Marksmanship Team is to encourage and introduce students to the discipline of competitive, marksmanship. This is accomplished by providing structured classroom instruction, practical application, individual qualification and competitive match opportunities. The outcome is students learning life skills such as self-control, self-discipline, emotional control, responsibility, concentration and attention skills, and the rewards of hard work, practice and competition while enhancing their self-image.”
The eight athletes who joined and remained with the team and the entire season have given positive feedback about the team and their own personal experiences gained from being team members. The eight athletes who joined the team are eighth graders Kayla Bostic, Aydin Walker, Charlotte Gilstrap, Emma Pirner, Sarah Pregana, Easton Brock, Savanna Patterson, and Jedaiah Quinland, along with Kristofer Utkin as manager for both teams. Marksmanship itself is quite different from other sports offered, but like others, it teaches students life skills that will benefit them in the future and in different career fields. As with every sport, there are some precautions needed to ensure the safety of every member of the team. Each cadet learns how to safely handle air rifles, and different measures including how to tell a superior there is an issue, which keeps everyone’s well being protected. The Precision JV team was primarily high school students with three 8th graders, whereas the Sporter team was all 8th graders. Each cadet had their own reasons for joining, for example, 8th grader Emma Pirner says “I joined the Marksmanship team because I thought it would be a good sport to do for me because it will teach me more ways to maintain my focus and have more time to socialize with people during this time we are in currently.” Many of the team members have agreed that they believe letting 8th graders on the team was a good idea. Aydin Walker says “I’m glad that 8th graders can be on these teams because there aren't many other choices for 8th graders to do.” As stated before, the members of the teams have developed different skills and characteristics while participating in the team this year. These skills have also aided cadets in their academic achievements. 8th grader Savanna Patterson says “I believe Marksmanship improved me because it taught me patience and that you have to work hard to achieve your goals.” The reactions from different cadets about being on these teams has all been positive. For instance, 8th grader Charlotte Gilstrap says “My overall reaction to shooting air rifles in three positions and being a part of the Ansbach Middle High School shooting sports program, is overjoyed. I've always enjoyed these kinds of activities and being a part of my school team while participating in a sport I am passionate about has really made me feel excited and feel like I'm a part of something good.” Every eighth grade Cadet has enjoyed being a part of the team and training with one another. It’s given many students the opportunity to talk to other people in different grade levels they normally wouldn’t interact with as often and created new friendships throughout the year.
The Sporter team took part in many virtual competitions to include the JROTC Postal Competition, Orion Scoring monthly matches and a sporter tournament held by the Hawk Battalion of Hermon High School in Maine. Ansbach finished in 1st place in this sporter competition. This was quite an achievement since the team of 8th graders competed against high school students.