Bob Jones AFJROTC receives NRA donation

MADISON – The Air Force JROTC program at Bob Jones High School has received a donation from the National Rifle Association or NRA.

The NRA gave Bob Jones cadets approximately $3,000 in equipment and funds to expand its marksmanship program.

A school’s JROTC must apply for a grant from the NRA Foundation with the sole purpose of educating youth in Air-rifle Safety, retired Command Sgt. Ellis Clark said. Clark and retired Lt. Col. Randy Herd are AFJROTC instructors.

Grant applications also must document the cadets’ training for shooting an air-rifle. “The NRA is very supportive of those programs that increase the number of youth desiring to learn marksmanship,” Clark said.

Bob Jones will use the $3,000 buy Marksmanship Rifles, which do not shoot small caliber rounds but small .177 caliber pellets that use air. This equipment uses a pump rifle and carbon dioxide cartridge or the more modern Pre-Charged Pneumatic or PCP Air Rifle, Clark said.

“The latter two models work a lot better for our female marksmen, because they do not require much upper-body/-arm strength to pump the rifle with air between each shot,” Clark said. Additionally, the PCP air-rifle is considerably more expensive and more accurately allows a cadet to maintain form between shots.

The grant also provides range safety equipment. This year, Bob Jones acquired a compressor to charge PCP rifles, eliminating trips to a dive shop for compressed air. Lastly, the grant supplies air-rifle maintenance/cleaning equipment, a generous supply of pellets and a much-needed spotting scope.

“We do not shoot live rounds at all,” Clark said. “The air rifles only discharge pellets; yet, on a 10-meter range, our marksmen aim at targets slightly larger than a quarter. Their goal is to hit the bullseye that measures 3/16ths of an inch in circumference.”

“Without the NRA’s support, our marksmanship program (could not) expand equipment-wise or grow personnel-wise, as in recent years. I’ve watched our team grow from five to nearly 20 members in a little over a year because we now have a larger range and more rifles,” Clark said.

“To some, $3,000 may seem a small amount, but, to our program, it’s a blessing because the fundraising we do supports our entire Air Force JROTC program, which leaves very few funds to put toward marksmanship. Again to the NRA Foundation, we say, ‘Thank you,'” Clark said.

Marksmanship is an extra-curriculum activity. After passing a safety test, students then can try the course. “Not all who initially come out make it. Safety is paramount. These air-rifles only fire pellets, but we must remain safety vigilant at all times,” Clark said.

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