FORT MILL — It took dedication, time, equipment and stamina for Cadet Sean Moughan and his Fort Mill Marine JROTC air rifle shooting team to place sixth in the nation at the service’s National Air Rifle Championship match late last month in Anniston, Ala.
It also took a whole lot of “practice, practice, practice,” Moughan said in Fort Mill’s JROTC office Thursday evening.
Cadet Brian Hampton took home the individual first place honors and is ranked No. 1 in the nation for Marine Corps JROTC shooters. Moughan earned fifth place in Alabama, good for a ranking of seventh best in the country.
“I went into the last match with no expectations,” said Moughan, a senior. “I think that really helped with nerves because I was calm, because I said, ‘If I shoot well, I shoot well.’”
Using a Crosman CH2009 PCP air rifle to aim for bull’s-eye targets the size of a pencil tip, Hampton earned the top award of the weekend (Feb. 21-23) over competition from more than 300 teams and 1,200 competitors.
The sophomore said he learned of his scores while sitting on the couch, watching the live scoring that Saturday.
“I knew some people were close to my score, but when the last shot was fired and the score went below mine, I realized I was first in the nation,” Hampton said. “I just sort of sat there, like ‘Wow.’”
Lt. Col. Rod Robinson said his team gets a competitive edge by going to events around the country. The Yellow Jackets will take on the best of all JROTC service shooters in an inter-service national championship in Camp Perry, Ohio, from March 21-23, followed by an invitational closer to home to round out the academic season.
“You take them away from here and it’s a shoulder-to-shoulder match, the competitive juices come up,” Robinson said. “It’s a real sport and they’re all athletes.”
Three other Fort Mill shooters placed among the top in the nation, including Cadet James Johns (No. 59), Cadet Anneke Van Eldik (No. 61) and Cadet Jordan Lozinski (No. 62). Johns, a sophomore who transferred from Nation Ford, said the rivalry between the Fort Mill high schools remains competitive.
“We’ve both got our ups and downs and compete every day,” Johns said. “Everyone on the team wants to do their best.”
The top seven teams and top 30 individuals from each JROTC branch, (Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force) will shoot in Ohio later this month – both Moughan and Hampton are locks for both individual and team play. As Moughan gets closer to graduation in May, he said he wants to help the younger members of his team get better. After a four-year career shooting for Fort Mill, Moughan recently earned a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Tech.
“I never thought I would turn out to have talent. It’s been a blessing,” Moughan said. “We have a lot of new shooters coming in now and I want to spend a lot of time getting them set for what’s ahead.”