Air rifle marksmanship is a sport in which a .177 caliber air rifle is used to engage paper targets at a range of 10 meters. In air rifle shooting, participants are graded on their ability to place accurate hits in three different firing positions known as the prone, kneeling, and standing. They are graded based on the strike of each round from the exact center of each target. Air rifle is an event for men and women in the Olympic games and is practiced in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Target shooting is a sport of discipline, control, and non-violence. It creates attitudinal qualities in youth that make them extremely unlikely to commit acts of violence of any kind. Air rifles used for the rifle marksmanship team are low-powered, single shot pellet guns that have no other purpose besides target shooting. In the sport of target shooting, participants’ energy is directed towards the target and never towards other competitors. In this environment, the air rifle is a piece of sports equipment and is treated with respect; it is never regarded as an instrument of violence.
Missouri Military Academy has a proud and storied history of our rifle marksmanship team, winning the coveted William Randolph Hearst National Trophy in 1928, 1929, 1930, and 1934; the 7th Corps area competition 2nd place in 1938, and 3rd place in 1940; the Smith Cotton high scores in all three firing positions and overall in 2006, 3rd place Ozark division in 2011, NRA National Postal Match 2nd place seniors in 2004, 2008 and 2009, and 2nd place freshmen in 2007. MMA earned 2nd place in the Junior Sport Shooter Program in 2012 and 2013, and 1st place in the Department of Missouri JSSP in 2012 sponsored by the American Legion.
CPT Joseph Balvanz has just begun his air rifle coaching career after retiring from the US Army after 21 years of service. Although the firing of the air rifle is new to CPT Balvanz, he brings a wealth of knowledge of the Army rifle marksmanship program and is an accomplished shooter himself. CPT Balvanz believes that his experience will enhance the program greatly and aspires to continue the traditions of our rifle marksmanship team to reclaim our right to compete on the national stage in the years to come.