LAYTON — For four years, Corey Hanley, 18, of Albuquerque, N.M., has qualified for the JROTC National Air Rifle Marksmanship Championship.
This year, fresh off LASIK eye surgery, Hanley, a member of the Marine Corps JROTC, isn’t expecting anything different.
“I just want to win,” Hanley said, confident that he will.
“I am planning on going into the military,” said Hanley, whose shooting scores when he is in the kneel position is what separates him from his competitors.
Hanley is one of 118 Marine Corps and Navy JROTC cadets gathered at the Davis Conference Center to compete in the Western JROTC Air Rifle Championship.
“This is probably the farthest west we have conducted an air rifle marksmanship competition,” said Brad Donoho, program coordinator for the Civilian Marksmanship Program.
It is certainly the first time the regional competition has been held in Layton, said Donoho, who is from Ohio.
Those with the top scores at the regional competition will go on to compete in the National JROTC Air Rifle Championship on March 21-23 in Aniston, Ala.
On Thursday, cadets trained with their rifles in preparation for the competition today and Saturday.
Army and Air Force JROTC cadets competed earlier in the week.
“I like a challenge,” said Navy JROTC competitor Jasmine Mendoza, 17, of El Paso, Texas.
What separates those cadets who go on to compete at nationals, and those who do not, is heart, Mendoza said.
Her friend and teammate, Stefani Fernandez, 17, said it takes a lot of practice to be a good shooter.
Cassandra Suter, 16, of Albuquerque, N.M., said she regularly takes target practice before and after school. She breaks down the shooting process in order to work on a certain aspect of her style, then moves on to something else.
“I do things methodically,” Suter said.
There are two different shooting categories in air rifle marksmanship. One is for cadets who shoot a more basic sporter rifle, which cannot exceed $525 in value. In the second category, a precision air rifle is used. Those guns range in price from $3,000 to $3,600, Donoho said.
Both types of air rifles use compressed air for propulsion, firing a lead pellet a distance of 33 feet at an electric scoring target.
Each shooter gets 20 shots from three different positions: prone, kneeling and standing.
“It’s a match between you and the target,” Donoho said of contestants who compete against themselves in trying to improve their scores.
Event organizers this year brought the competition to Layton, after determining it provided the JROTC teams clustered throughout the West an affordable, geographically centered location, Donoho said.
The groups initially considered Salt Lake City, he said, but the Davis Conference Center beat everyone else’s offer.
“The city of Layton, they really wanted us,” Donoho said of the competition being held in the Davis Conference Center’s exhibit expo space.
Prior to the regional competition, JROTC marksmanship teams fired at targets on their home courts and, based on their target scores, were selected to compete regionally.
The weeklong competition at the conference center has an overall economic impact on the area of $282,000 in revenues, said officials with the Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It’s just another great way to use the facility,” Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said. Last year the conference expo space was used to host an archery championship, he said.
The public is invited to attend the marksmanship matches at no charge.