Nanook rifle aims high, misses the mark

University of Kentucky Wildcat Ethan Settlemires aims in the air rifle event against the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons on Nov. 19. Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star

Fernanda Chamorro/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 22, 2011

Complete silence and tension took over in the downstairs E.F. Rifle Range of the Patty Center Saturday as the men’s and women’s rifle teams aimed and prepared to shoot. A weekend-long tournament took place between the Alaska Nanooks, University of Kentucky Wildcats and the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons Nov. 18-20.

Coaches chose their top six or seven shooters to compete. From those they picked five to actually shoot. The best four’s scores would count toward the team score, marking an “X” next to their name on the scoreboard. One thing that makes rifling a tough sport is that one cannot recover points. From the beginning of each event, every shooter is handed 600 points.

There were two events in this competition: smallbore and air rifle. Shooters fire each shot toward the target from 50 feet away and a total of 60 shots must be fired. Smallbore requires three different positions: prone (laying down), standing and kneeling. Air rifle only requires standing. The center is worth 10 points and every ring away from it is worth one point less. The distance from the 10 points is removed from the score, so that shooters lose points from the 600 rather than gain them. Once they are lost, the points cannot be regained.

Friday night, the Nanooks defeated the Falcons in air rifle 2348-2336 and smallbore 2310-2281 for a total 4658-4617.

“It was good,” Nanook Coach Dan Jordan said. Anna Hjelmevoll’s 594 in air rifle was the “season high of course which is nice,” Jordan said. Hjelmevoll also took the lead for the home team in smallbore Friday with a 582.

Friday was a good warm-up for the Nanooks to get some of the jitters out, Jordan said. They had looked forward to shooting against the Wildcats. “They seem to perform well when the pressure is on and they’re up against a good team,” he said.

The Wildcats beat the Falcons 4687-4608 Saturday afternoon. The Falcons, who flew in from Colorado Springs, lost both matches against the universities.

“We’ll hit a couple of good scores, but we’re not putting a team of good scores together yet,” said Lauri Meili, the coach of the Falcons.

Wildcats shooter Emily Holsopple, 19, had the highest score in air rifle with a 595. She looked like a statue, completely still as she shot the pellets toward the center of the target. She felt well because everything flowed and she had a good performance, she said. As a team it was a good performance, but not their best.

“[Holsopple’s] been working really hard to get to and remain at that level,” Wildcats Coach Harry Mullins said.

There were three relays Sunday from 9 a.m. to almost 4:30 p.m. The Nanooks were taken down by the Wildcats with 4646-4691. 2345-2361 in air rifle and 2301-2330 in smallbore. Holsopple remained the top shooter on her team during the first and second relay Nov. 20. Hjelmevoll maintained good scores throughout, having the first relay’s top team score of 591 and a 197 in smallbore standing during the third relay.

Jordan’s team has the talent and the quality, he said, but they need more of the “mental stuff,” such as drive and belief in themselves. Though they lost Sunday’s match, the Nanooks have improved their technique with each match.

“I think we’ll be in a good place come March,” Jordan said.

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