Packer rifle team climbs the ladder

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Smithfield High School AJROTC Rifle Team, in just its third year of competition, again qualified for and traveled to Camp Perry, Port Clinton, Ohio last weekend to compete in the Civilian Marksmanship Program Army JROTC Regional Championships. Their performance ranked them 19th nationally, third in the Northeast Region, and number one in Virginia for all Army JROTC programs.

Junior Caroline Lewton and team captain Niya Young, a first year shooter, led the way, placing 9th and 15th overall of 75 shooters at the regional competition. With their scores, Caroline and Niya placed 42nd and 71st, respectively, at the national level of 237 regional competitors. To put things in perspective, those 237 competitors qualified to compete at the regional level from more than 6,000 JROTC marksmen initial entries nationwide. Both of these young ladies are in the top 1% of Army JROTC marksmen nationwide.

The team success is due to its hard work and practice, but credit also needs to be given to multiple entities in the Smithfield community and beyond that have allowed the team to flourish. Without the $1 million donation from Smithfield Foods to build the JROTC Fieldhouse as part of the Legacy Project, the rifle team would not exist. The National Rifle Association has provided more than $6,000 worth of range and rifle gear, pellets and equipment to the team through its grant program. Many local veterans organizations: the Special Forces Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8545, and the American Legion Post 49 have donated hundreds of dollars to the team allowing it purchase additional needed items and cover travel expenses.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Volunteer Coach Tom Vranas’s dedication of years of experience and willingness to volunteer his time at every practice has brought the team to where it is today.

“I never would have thought we could come this far in three years,” said Coach Pete Badoian, “but with the help of this community, administrative support from Smithfield High School and Isle of Wight County Schools, the sky’s the limit for this team.

“These cadets are improving daily and pushing each other to become better marksmen. I don’t think they even realize how good they have become in such a short time.”