Small-Bore Rifle Team
The University of North Dakota Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Fighting Hawks Battalion Rifle Team has a history of success. In both the past and present, the extracurricular group has been a platform for developing strong cadets who understand the importance of enhancing their marksmanship skills and desire to be a member of a highly competitive, tight-knit team.
In recent years, the UND Army ROTC Fighting Hawks Rifle Team has performed exceptionally in air rifle match shooting at the annual Gateway Battalion Rifle Competition—in 2009, the team made its debut appearance and took second place after just one and a half weeks of practice; in 2010, the team dominated the competition to earn first place with a 200 point spread between them and the second place team; and at each competition in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the team continued to win handily. Through determination, discipline, and the will to achieve victory as a team, a dynasty of excellence had been born. These competitions were sanctioned by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP)—a national organization dedicated to training and educating United States citizens in the responsible uses of firearms and air guns—and allowed ROTC battalions from around the region to face each other in competitive air-rifle match. Although the competition had grown in popularity over the years with ten schools from North Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Illinois bringing 108 participating cadets to the match in 2013, the annual competition unfortunately ceased in 2014 due to budget constraints. With no competitions being sanctioned locally using a similar class of air-rifles, the UND Army ROTC Rifle Team had to undergo a reevaluation on how best to continue fostering the marksmanship skills and competitive spirit for the cadets in the future. The determination was made that the Rifle Team would shift its shooting focus from air-rifle to small-bore rifle.
Under the support and guidance of Captain John Mossman, the UND Army ROTC Executive Officer and Military Science Instructor; Tom Reiten, of the Forks Rifle Club; Cadet Command’s 3rd Brigade; and other cadre and cadet leadership, the Rifle Team commenced in transforming itself into a team that can continue to fulfill its mission of excellence. 2015 marked the year of renewal. Under the funding of the UND Army ROTC Raiders Club, annual membership fees for the Forks Rifle Club were paid and over 6000 rounds of ammunition were acquired. Thanks to the generous funding of 3rd BDE, new slings, hand-stops, and shooting mats were purchased, and all ten of the stocked Winchester Model 52 Type D Bolt Action .22 Small-Bore Rifles owned by the UND Army ROTC program were able to be repaired and modified for competitive match shooting by Gordy Linell and his team at Northern Rifle Accurizing in Grand Forks, ND.
The Rifle Team of 2015, made up almost exclusively of underclassmen, load up and head out with cadre weekly to practice the four-position shooting styles—prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing—at the Forks Rifle Club in Emerado, ND. Tom Reiten, who is Secretary-Treasurer of the Forks Rifle Club and has been a member there since 1977, attends each practice session to oversee the cadets’ use of the quality indoor shooting range on location, as well as ensuring that each round of shooting is properly administered safely and efficiently. In addition, Reiten has continually been giving invaluable lessons to the cadets at each practice session on marksmanship, competition, and range professionalism. His support has proven to be monumental to the continuing development of the Rifle Team, serving as an important reminder to the benefits of local civil-military partnerships.
For the determined cadets of the University of North Dakota Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Fighting Hawks Battalion Rifle Team, 2015 will be viewed as a year of building and renewal—a preparation for continued success in the future. Although the 2015 Rifle Team did not have the opportunity to compete in a four-position match shooting competition this season, all team members have made noteworthy improvements in their marksmanship, have learned the basics of small-bore match competition, and most importantly, have developed lasting friendships and a sense of confidence that will carry through them as cadets and future leaders of the United States Army.
Written by: Cadet Kyle L. Simonson, Rifle Team Captain