As you know the rifle team just returned from participating in the JROTC Regionals in Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend. All I can say is what an experience. It was quite an honor to make it to this level in the first place and to shoot shoulder to shoulder with the top in the nation is just awesome. Even though we didn’t win any medals or trophies, the experience will be one the boys will never forget, nor will I.
After spending the night in Santa Rosa New Mexico we arrived in Phoenix early evening Wednesday the 18th. There we met up with James Peterson’s Dad and Geoffery Houchens Mom and Grand Pa. After a good nights sleep we left for the Phoenix Convention Center in downtown Phoenix where we checked in, did an equipment check and waited for our relay to start for an hour of much needed practice on their electronic target systems. This was the first time the boys shot on these type of targets and they took to them well. It is also the first time they shot side by side 82 other competitors shooting at the same time. I know I was in a state of shock and awe all weekend.
On Friday our relay started their first day of competition at 1030. The course of fire was a 3×20 sixty shot match which last about two hours. It was obvious that all of us had competition jitters at the start of the match. As more and more pellets went going down range so did the nervousness, at least for the boys. I was a nervous wreck…LOL I have to say the boys went there to compete. All of them shot above average scores but true to the nature of rifle shooting all were disappointed that they didn’t do better; and knew they were capable of doing better.class=””
On Saturday our relay didn’t start until 1300. This gave us plenty of time to check out of the hotel, get a bite to eat, and get psyched up for the second day of competition. The boys were a lot more relaxed from the day before; but, their coach was not! All I asked them to do was improve their score from the day before and that is what they did. All four boys improved, and as a matter of fact, three of the four boys fired their best score of their career. Yifan Xu led the Muleskinner team with a combined score of 1117; followed by his brother Yixiu, Li with a 1089. Not far behind the brothers were James Peterson with a 1070 and Westin Houchens with a 1045.
With the forecast predicting snow and ice between Arizona and Kansas we decided to leave before the awards ceremony started and get as many miles behind us as possible before it hit. We made it to Gallup New Mexico where we spent the night and was on the road again by 0700 Sunday morning. On the other side of Albuquerque is where we ran into the storm. First came the freezing rain which resulted in a two hour delay on I-40 due to several jackknifed semis and a couple of roll over wrecks. Right before Amarillo Texas the snow started. If we were going to slip and slide we decided to do it in the daylight; so we spent the night in Amarillo instead of pushing it. At 0600 the next morning we were back on the road arriving on campus about 1600.