Cadets get a  chance to earn one of the coveted JROTC marksmanship badges.

Once a year the St John’s Military School JROTC Department conducts an air rifle qualification program for all JROTC Cadets. This year’s program ran from January 4 to 27. By waiting until third quarter to conduct qualifications, this gives more cadets a chance to earn one of the coveted marksmanship badges. Eighty-eight cadets had an opportunity to qualify this year.

Before a cadet can fire their first round downrange they must go through eight days of classroom instruction covering safety, fundamentals of rifle shooting, and instruction in the different positions involved in three-position rifle shooting; this being the prone, standing, and kneeling positions. In addition, all cadets must pass the range safety exam with a 100 percent and sign a 15-point safety pledge before being allowed to fire. While on the range all cadets serve as assistant safety officers and help each other as a two-person team while attempting to qualify.

Even with all of the above training, first time shooters as well as the more experienced shooters find earning a badge does not come easy. To earn a marksman badge, shooters must fire a minimum score of 175 out of a possible 200 points in the prone and standing positions. To earn the sharpshooter badge, cadets must score a minimum 188 points out of 200. The few who earn the right to try for the title of expert rifleman must fire in all three positions to include the kneeling position and must fire a score of 290 out of 300 to earn the elite expert badge.

The 129th Corps of Cadets have done an excellent job qualifying this year. Eighty-six percent of the eligible participants this year qualified for one of the marksmanship badges. In addition to the six Muleskinner Rifle Team Members, fourteen other cadets have qualified as experts. They are James Evans, Justin Gilbert, Caleb Kirkpatrick, Steven Linville, Aidan Maclachlan, Lucas Marlar, Caleb Moscati, Daniel Omdahl, Brennan Pecora, Christopher Reilly-Reed, Brice Shao, Christian Sprayberry, Daniel Summer, and Justin Wilhelm. Cadet Marlar fired the highest score this year with a 299 out of 300. For this prestigious accomplishment Lucas will receive the Upper School Marksmanship Award during our Commencement Awards Ceremony. All in all there are 20 experts in the 129th Corps of Cadets along with 26 sharpshooters and 30 marksmen.