Riflery is known as one of the most exciting parts of the Olympics, although, many don’t necessarily pay attention to the sport outside of the Olympics. Here at Wakefield, we have our own Rifle team; they even won the championship last year!
As a matter of fact, Riflery has been in the county for over twenty years, the Yorktown and W-L teams being in existence the longest. To learn more about the team, The Chieftain talked to Wakefield Rifle Team members: Co-Captain Ellen Franzen and Student Mentor Joey Mazel.
Both are seniors and have at least three years of experience individually. When asked about why they chose the rifle team over other sports, Joey said, “I had some experience before and I found [the team] appealing.” Ellen said that she chose it primarily because she did not enjoy physical sports, and was looking for something to do with friends.
“Rifle is a very mental sport,” Ellen said, “you have to adjust to some of the painful shooting positions over long periods of time. Joey said, “It’s just a lot of technique, over time you perfect it.”
Newcomers to the sport may believe that you need prior experience before you sign up, but Joey said, “they don’t need prior knowledge…we teach them.”
When asked about the gun control issue and if the team was under scrutiny because of it; they both confirmed that there was pressure. “I wish people would understand that these are air rifles,” said Ellen. She continued to say, “I think that there are stereotypes with guns in general, people assume that you have to be a male, white, or Republican,”
On July 15, 1999, after the Columbine massacre, Yorktown high school’s indoor range was shut down. Student’s rifles were later changed from single-shot .22 bullet rifles to pellet air rifles.
When reminiscing about their time on the Rifle team, Ellen said, “in my first year we weren’t very good, but last year we did really well and won a lot of matches.” Ellen also said, “I was happy to see improvement in the team.” Joey said, “…we won the championship last year; I feel like the program is improving.”
How did the team improve? Ellen said, “we make sure everyone shows up, has a productive practice, and make sure that we have a good environment and atmosphere for everyone.”
Lastly, we asked about how the sport has impacted their lives. Joey said, “it’s taught me control, to be more disciplined, and to have a lot more patience.” Ellen said, “it’s given me mental perseverance, control…it has helped me achieve things I wouldn’t think possible.”
The team’s latest success? Setting a record 1109 high score just last week, the Air Rifle team is very promising and will bring in more trophies for Wakefield this season.