Cadets who compete as MMA rifle marksmen must demonstrate exceptional self-discipline, concentration and responsibility. To join the team, all cadets are required to pass the JROTC Air Rifle Marksmanship Cadet Safety Examination with a score of 100%. To compete, they must practice Monday through Friday from 6:00 to 7:00 AM and after classes from 4:00 to 5:30 PM.
This dedication to the sport has helped the team score high in recent competitions. For the winter 2020-21 season, MMA’s rifle team has scored in the top five in nearly all of their recent competitions, and in many instances, team members scored in the top 20 of all individual firers at these competitions. Furthermore, Cadets Lance Newland and Nathan Balvanz have broken MMA records, earning them a place among MMA’s most elite riflemen of all time.
- Newland set a new tenths-weighted overall quarter match record at MMA at 282.6.
- Balvanz set a new tenths-weighted kneeling position quarter match record at MMA at 97.3
Talent and high scores aside, Colonels Rifle Team Coach Captain Joseph Balvanz says being a member of the MMA rifle team is about more than the shots fired – it is about the personal and mental growth cadets develop during practice and in competitions.
“This kind of training develops mental discipline that benefits them on the range, in the classroom and beyond,” said Captain Balvanz. “Rifle training hones skills that contribute to increases in courage, confidence, stamina, physical balance and personal responsibility."
According to top veteran and rookie firers Newland and Balvanz, the best part of MMA’s rifle team is the brotherhood – getting to spend time with and grow as a team on the range.
“The best part of being on the rifle team is the sense of camaraderie and teamwork,” said Cadet Newland. “Rifle team is a unique team sport in that every person competes individually and the scores are compiled to determine the group’s ranking and ultimate success or failure. That means that every team member is equally important and valued in their contribution to the overall success of the team.”
Perhaps even more valuable, cadets explain that being a member of the rifle team has helped them achieve greater discipline in other aspects of their lives, academically and personally.
“In addition to simply improving my rifle skills, the rifle team has also helped me develop a stronger work ethic and the ability to juggle an additional responsibility outside of school. I have to be more organized with schoolwork so that I can complete MMA and college classwork while maintaining a strong GPA,” said Cadet Newland. “The mental acuity required to successfully compete in rifle competitions has sharpened my focusing skills and ability to concentrate on the task at hand, despite outside noise or distractions.”
Cadet Balvanz, top rookie, agreed, explaining that he has achieved a greater sense of self-confidence and self-actualization.
“Joining the rifle team has given me more self-confidence,” said Cadet Balvanz. “The rifle team has helped me trust in myself and what I am capable of. I think I have a better understanding of myself and what I can achieve.”