PHS rifle team gets funds

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg High School rifle team has received a $10,000 endowment from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Bill Carman, regional director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, was at PHS Thursday to congratulate members of the school’s rifle team, which is part of the PHS Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC).

The Elk Foundation and the Midway USA Foundation partnered to provide the endowment, which will generate about $500 a year in perpetuity for the program. NNDCC Commander John Snively said the money can be used to purchase equipment, such as pellets, for the team. Snively said the air rifles cost about $300. Pellets for matches cost as much as $40 a box.

The Elk Foundation awards such endowments to both college and high school programs throughout the country. Carman said there are four such endowments in his three-state region (Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia). PHS is the only foundation endowment in the state.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is leading a conservation initiative and believes efforts rely on strong participation in hunting and shooting sports.

The school’s cadet corps has about 125 members, including the 25-member rifle team. Snively said only about half of those members participate in shooting matches. The team meets twice a week for practice.

Snively said the team will compete in four to six matches a year with close to 50 teams in the region.

The team’s top shooter is Tori Baker, a junior. Baker, who sports two shooting medallions among a chestful of medals and ribbons, is a three-year member of the team who also hunts and shoots with her father.

According to Snively, the school’s present rifle team has been around since 1986. Members practice at an indoor range on the school grounds. Last year, the range was host to the state meet.

Snively said the rifle team is a great way to teach marksmanship, discipline, patient and firearm safety. All members of the rifle team must achieve a perfect score on the safety test before being allowed to join the team. Any breach in gun safety protocol while on the range results in automatic ejection from the range, Snively said.

Snively said the cadets’ service gives them a sense of pride, community, well-being and worth.

PHS Principal Pam Goots praised the cadets and their pride in the school and work ethic. Goots said cadets will jump at the chance to help out, to direct traffic, serve as tour guides or provide gate control for events at Stadium Field.

“It’s amazing what they will do,” she said.

“They do whatever they ask us to do,” Snively said.

“Which is a lot,” Goots added.