Joshua ISD shelled out top dollar for a state-of-the-art shooting range which includes the same type of equipment used in the Olympics for rifle competitions.
The district spent $78,000 on SIUS targeting system for the Joshua High School Naval JROTC Precision Rifle Team. They just recently won first place in the Navy National Rifle Championship last month and has five student marksmen who qualified for the National Junior Olympics.
“I just think it’s absolutely wonderful that our district has enough confidence in our program to make this kind of investment for our kids, it’s been wonderful," said Lt. Col. James Davidson, the NJROTC instructor for the high school.
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Fran Marek, the superintendent for Joshua ISD, said when they found out money for the new system was not going to come from the Navy, they were determined to find funding.
“The JROTC program in Joshua is a shining star in our district," said Marek. "We knew this was the last piece to get them over the top in their competitions, and so our board was committed and determined to do what it took to make sure that they had this last piece of the puzzle."
The students have used the new shooting range for about a month.
The team practices two hours a day and instead of having to use paper targets, the electronic system gives them real-time results.
“Honestly, it’s a really fun system to use, it has improved my scores tremendously," said senior Cody Burks. He'll be attending Schreiner University in the fall and will be on the shooting team. "These are the systems I'll be shooting on next year at Schreiner University because it’s a really big help."
Burks and his teammates use 1.77-millimeter pellets in their air rifles.
"We load it into our rifles and with our rifles, we aim at our target and shoot," said Burks. "It tracks the velocity of the pellet to get our score and it gets it down to a one-hundredth of where we shoot."
Grace Sharp, who is a senior and the team captain, said she's noticed a difference in her shooting since using the new shooting range.
“I love it, it makes practice a lot more productive and it’s a lot easier instead of having to wait and do the stuff with the paper," said Sharp. "We use NPA, which is a natural point of aim, so using this system you have to be pretty spot on."
The system allows them to look at the scores on monitors and spectators can look at them too on screens in a separate room. There's even the capability to live stream the results for parents who may not be able to watch at the school.
Davidson said the system has been worth it.
“Well, we got the system, we went on the road and they won the Navy National Championship so that was pretty good," said Davidson who beamed with pride about his student-athletes.
He said the 20 students on his shooting team go through 10,000 pellets a week.
"It takes a lot of core strength, a lot of arm strength and leg strength to do this sport and a lot of practice goes into this sport," said Burks. "It is an Olympic sport, football is a good sport, but this is just a different type of athlete."
"The public is open to a ribbon cutting that will take place on Monday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Joshua High School JROTC wing. District leaders will speak and the community can receive a tour and watch the Precision Rifle Team in action.