Alaska sharp-shooters qualify for nationals

Rebecca Coleman
Feb. 15, 2011

Cody Rutter takes a brief glance at his previous shot placement in the smallbore NCAA qualifier Saturday morning. Cody scored 586/600 in the air rifle and 588/600 in the small bore qualification. Feb. 12, 2011. Dillon Ball/Sun Star

The Nanooks were excited to take on Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for the NCAA Qualifier rifle match on Saturday, Feb. 12.

Throughout their eight-hour meet, the Nanooks shot down any hopes the Fightin’ Engineers had at qualifying for nationals.  Alaska outshot Rose-Hulman 4642-4437.  Seniors Ida Peterson and Cody Rutter were among the top shooters for the Nanooks, claiming scores in air rifle of 581 and 586, respectively.  In smallbore, their scores were 583 and 588, respectively.

For those who have no idea what these numbers mean, here is a brief explanation about scoring.  Each shooter has 60 shots per event (air rifle or smallbore) and shoots 20 shots in each of three positions (standing, kneeling, and prone).  Each shot is worth up to 10 points, so the highest score a shooter can get in each event is 600.  The team score is made up of the top four shooters’ scores.

Early in his air rifle event, sophomore Scott Franz noticed a problem with his sights, so he had to switch to another gun.  The time used to evaluate the problem used up valuable shooting time, and because this was not a gun malfunction but a preventable problem, he was not allotted extra time to finish his 60 shots.  He ended up 10 shots short, resulting in his score being much lower than it would have been otherwise.

Coach Dan Jordan estimates that the Nanooks placed fifth in the country after the meet, guaranteeing Alaska a trip to nationals.  The Nanooks will be among sharp-shooting teams such as West Virginia, Texas Christian, Kentucky, and Murray State.

“Now we’re doing better than we have the whole year,” Jordan said.  “Things are coming together.”

Anna Hjelmevoll of the UAF Rifle Team adjusts her air rifle during Saturday morning's NCAA qualifier. Feb. 12, 2011. Dillon Ball/Sun Star

Because Alaska’s rifle team has won the National Championships 10 times since 1994, “there are lots of outside expectations” with coaching the dynasty, Jordan said.  However, he doesn’t see it as pressure, as he’s already “extremely competitive.”

Rutter has been to Nationals for the past three years.  He said it’s the most “nerve wracking” of any competition.  To his younger teammates, he advises that they “go and have fun with it.  Don’t put it on a pedestal.  Learn as much as you can and take away as much from it as you can.”

“It’s important that you respect one another and trust one another so that you aren’t worried about your teammates while you’re on the line,” Peterson said.  “This sport is so mental.”

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