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KG rifle team shoots to first place in national event

Hunter Cushman, Ben Firth, Jenna Heiston and Carrie Richbourg compete in prone firing position.

Hunter Cushman, Ben Firth, Jenna Heiston and Carrie Richbourg compete in prone firing position.

The King George High School NJROTC Rifle Team placed first in the Sporter division of the 2014 JROTC Three-Position National Championships.

For the second year in a row, one of its team members, Hunter Cushman, finished first overall and earned four gold medals, the maximum possible.

The match was held March 20-22 at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio. There, the team competed against the top 202 shooters from Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy JROTC programs from around the country.

The four cadets representing King George were Cushman, Ben Frith, Carrie Richbourg, and Jenna Heiston.

For the team to qualify for the national championship, it had to advance through three rounds of competition. The journey began in October when a record-breaking 8,025 junior shooters participated in the first round matches, with the highest-scoring teams and individuals in each branch qualifying for the JROTC Regional Service Championships.

The King George team placed fifth in the Navy in the first round. That earned members an invitation to the Camp Perry Regional in February where they finished second.

Cushman placed first in individual standings and was the top scorer from all four regional competitions.

The top shooters and teams from regionals earned a spot in the national match.

King George competes primarily in the sporter category of three-position air rifle, according to a press release from Fred Duckworth, one of the King George instructors. Competitors fire at targets 10 meters away in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling.

The National Championship Match was held on an 80-point air gun range, equipped with 10-meter firing points and state-of-the-art electronic targets. The electronic targets updated scores automatically, which were displayed on TV monitors.

The match was held over two days with competitors firing 20 shots each day in each of the three positions. The King George team trailed by 32 points after the first day, but came back on day two with a strong performance to win the championship by seven points with a total of 4,357.

At the end of each day’s firing, the top eight individual shooters competed in a final, and those scores were added to the three-position score to determine individual winners.

Cushman finished the event in first place, and Richbourg was 10th in the overall standings.

Three former King George Rifle team members have gone on to compete in NCAA Division 1 Rifle competition, one at West Point and two earned athletic scholarships to shoot for Morehead State University. A fourth, Sheila Craine, will be a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Rifle team next year.