The top cadets of McDowell High School’s NJROTC recently traveled to Lincolnton to hear three veterans talk about their experience while on active duty.

They listened to Col. Walter Marm and Specialist Robert Patterson, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for displaying valor during the Vietnam War. Also they heard from Sgt. Joel Tavera who was blinded and burned over 80 percent of his body during combat in Iraq, for which he received the Purple Heart along with other valor awards.

Sgt. Tavera gave a motivational speech about life, overcoming adversity and how to achieve life goals. His eloquent talk left the cadets with the message to never give up on their dreams and live life to the fullest. Col. Marm and Spc. Patterson gave us insight on what it was like to receive the Honor of Metal, and how it's a life changing experience as well as a huge responsibility. The ceremony was very uplifting, cadets said.

While the cadets were in Lincolnton, the McDowell High School NJROTC rifle team competed in the 2017 Razorback shoulder-to-shoulder rifle competition in Walhalla, S.C. There were 49 teams representing 26 high schools in the match.

The McDowell High rifle teams placed ninth, 20th, 22nd and 24th. McDowell’s teams were led by second-year shooter Trinity Parker, with a score of 507 points out of a possible 600 points; third-year shooter Austin Smith, with a score of 497 out of 600; fourth-year shooter Jordan Burnette, with a score of 493 out of 600; and second-year shooter Noah Cable, with a score of 471 out of 600.

“This year we have a strong group of shooters, no star but a strong bench. Also, the freshman shooters are gaining skill rapidly,” said Smith. “We are one of the better teams in the area, but we need to practice harder to make it to the top.”

First win in air rifle against Easley

Shooting their highest score of the season, Ramona NJROTC defeated McDowell NJROTC 1072 to 1015 recently in the National Air Rifle League.

Then, McDowell NJROTC edged out Easley NJROTC 989 to 972 last week in the National Air Rifle League. With the win, McDowell NJROTC is in sixth place in their Division with a 1 - 2 record. McDowell NJROTC was led by Jesse Gill who shot a 252. The remaining contributing members were Austin Johnson, Austin Smith and Jessica Moore.

Next up McDowell NJROTC will compete against Cross Creek NJROTC from Augusta, Ga. Cross Creek NJROTC currently has a 2 - 1 record.

These two teams are competing in the Navy JROTC Champions Division of the Orion National Air Rifle League. Sponsored by the Orion Scoring System, the league is a national team league for high school teams and junior rifle clubs. The league has two parts. An eight week round-robin regular season going on now, where teams compete for their division's title, followed by the post-season, comprising of two single elimination tournaments. Only the top 16 teams across all divisions advance to the post-season, to compete for the league title.

In each game the teams compete in what is known as a Three-Position Air Rifle match. The match is modeled after Olympic Rifle competitions but adapted to high school age athletes. Each athlete will shoots 10 shots in three different shooting positions, prone, standing, and kneeling. Each shot is worth a maximum of 10 points. The sum of points scored in the 30 shots is the athlete's total. The team score is comprised of the best four athletes from each team.

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