Small bore and air rifle target shooting is a national and Olympic sport with many accomplished marksman in the central Kansas area. Cadets on the St. John’s High School Rifle Team not only have the opportunity to test their skills locally, but also to compete nationally through postal matches hosted by organizations such as the National Rifle Association, the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Postal matches are competitions fired on our home range with the fired targets mailed to the host organization. This allows our students to compete at the national level against many other schools and shooting clubs across the nation.
The rifle team competes in more than twenty-five matches a season that extends from the first of November through the first of April; everything culminates with the Kansas State three-position Championship. Other prestigious competitions in which each team member competes includes the NRA Sectionals, the Junior Olympic Qualifier, and the Kansas State Outdoor and Indoor Championships. In addition, the St. John’s Rifle Team is a member of the North Central Kansas Gallery League and competes on a weekly basis against teams from the north central Kansas area.
The rifle range in the basement of the Steven’s Center utilizes twelve firing points and is considered to be a world class facility. This facility received praise from several Olympic hopefuls that include members from the Army’s Marksmanship Unit. While competing on the range, one such shooter tied a national record in standing position.
Coach Tony Blair is a competitor himself and has coached the high school rifle team from 1989-1993, and then again from 1999 to the present day. He is an NRA/CMP certified coach and rifle instructor and President of the North Central Kansas Gallery League.
Joining the rifle team is difficult at St John’s. Most Cadets, after hearing about the program, want to join but they need to try out for the few open positions each year. Normally, there are only three or four placements available.
The team practices two hours a day on four days a week when they are not actually competing in a match. They practice the self control of holding as perfectly still as they can and controlling their breathing. This is a difficult task even for an adult, requiring much self discipline and dedication.