Joshua's Junior ROTC rifle teams returned home from Alabama this week, bringing back some awards and earning a return trip to Alabama for the national championships March 20.

"Our team made the cut for nationals, so we'll be heading back to Anniston, Ala., in a few weeks for more competition," said ROTC director Jim Davidson.

The Joshua teams didn't perform to its complete capability, Davidson said, but he was pleased to be advancing. He noted the support from JISD administration.

"Principal Mick Cochran was gracious enough to drive the other school vehicle and lend his support to the team," Davidson said. "Superintendent Fran Marek was equally supportive and will helped us with financing."

Precision team members included Tyler Lindsey, James Slawson, Mitchell Moore, Robert Davidson and William Davidson.  Sporter team members included Louis Garcia, Sheridan Beene, Zachary Beene, William Myers and Silvester Suarez.

Last Thursday, the Cadets underwent equipment checks to ensure their rifles and suits were within legal limits, then shot a practice round. According to the CMP website, a total of 5,136 marksmen representing 614 Navy units began the competition last fall during the “postal” phase. The field was narrowed to 194 marksmen for this competition. There were a total of 36 teams, with 16 at-large individuals and 34 alternates.

Joshua's precision team placed fifth overall and the sporter team placed sixth.

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"It was not as high as I had hoped it would be, but high enough to qualify for the All Service Nationals next month," Davidson said. "The All Service Nationals will pit the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine JROTC units against one another. There are 3,500 JROTC units nationwide."

The cadets attempted 120 record shots Friday and Saturday, for a possible 1,200 points each, Davidson said. He said Joshua's performance leaves room to improve prior to nationals.

"The score doesn't tell the whole story. Last Thursday, after the practice round, I watched one of our team captains slip on some wet grass and fall into a bar ditch, where he got banged up pretty good," Davidson said "He was in a fair amount of pain throughout the competition and shot at least 60 points below his average. One of the parents reminded me that it is not always the best team that wins, but the healthiest. The bottom line is this: when he gets his game back in a few days, the folks at the All Service Competition had better watch out."

Davidson added that rifle competition is unique because it is both a team and individual sport. 

"In addition to qualifying both teams, we had two individual medalists," he said.

Sheridan Beene shot a national record in the prone position with a Sporter rifle, scoring 198 out of a possible 200. William (Tucker) Davidson shot 200 out of a possible 200 in the prone position in the precision category and finished Saturday's match with a 586 out of 600, Davidson added.

Of the eight marksmen who advanced to the finals, Davidson had the highest score of 100.7 in 10 shots. He also finished fourth overall in the precision category.

This week, the rifle team host the Texas State Rifle Association Junior Olympics.

"With any luck, a few of our kids will be advancing to the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs," Davidson said.

Not only are the students on the team good marksmen, Davidson said, but also good students.

"In addition to the long hours these kids spend practicing, they are all passing their classes with distinction," Davidson said. "Five of them are members of the National Honor Society."

There is still need of financial support for the trips, Davidson said.

"We ate peanut butter sandwiches and saved as much money as we could for this trip," he said. "But we are really in need of some local businesses to step up and support us financially. Our next trip is March 20 and we have a lot of fundraising that we need to do between now and then."