By Alicia Couch Payne
On April 27, 2019, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) held their Three-Position Air Rifle State Championships at Pool International Shooting Complex 10 Meter Range at Fort Benning, GA. For individuals to qualify for this competition, the shooter must have scored a 292 or higher during any match in the regular season. Buford junior Morgan Adams clinched her spot at the championship after shooting a 293 against Lithonia earlier in the season.
Riflery’s season is the longest of any GHSA-recognized sport starting in October and running through April. Regarding the complex sport, Buford head coach Brandon Manders said, “Riflery is very rule-specific with a lot of regulations. There is so much gear and moving parts, it is tough to master.”
Each match has three relays. The first relay is from the prone position, where the competitor must shoot lying down. The second and toughest relay is the standing position. In the third relay, competitors must shoot in the kneeling position. Each relay has 10 shots for 10 points each with a possible overall total score of 300.
Coach Manders says Adams was extremely focused during practice the week leading up to State. On practice day at Fort Benning, Adams did well and felt confident going into the competition the next day, taking home third-place. She shot a school record and placed the highest any Buford athlete has ever had at State.
For the first time ever, the top three finishers were all female. Defending State Champion Laci Jewell of Ware County won first place, with Anusha Pakkam of Roswell finishing second.
“If I’m being completely transparent,” said Adams, “I’m shocked at how well I did. Given all the noise, not having my team with me, and being in the second relay, I would have thought my nerves would have gotten to me more. Instead, I was super calm while shooting, and I continuously told myself that I knew I could shoot well and that through Christ I can do all things. I told myself that before every shot. I’m thankful for two great coaches that developed me as an athlete. Knowing that I have set a new school record and placed third in the state makes me feel like I’ve accomplished my personal goal for the 2018-2019 rifle season. I’m excited to see how I can continue to improve and hope the team can set a record next year.”