I caught up with the Borealis Bullseyes from Anchorage, Alaska, to talk with rising high school junior Henry Riffe, and rising high school seniors, Sophie Wilts, Bella Anderson, Cora Anderson (yes, twins) to discuss their journey as a team and future plans. Coach Marshel Reed started this club team back in 2000. In 2001, his team won gold at the National Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, and he’s been chasing another victory ever since.
Training in Alaska can be tough at times. Shooting practice in the winter requires them to drag their bags through 3 feet of snow, when its -20°F. The training was worth it though; the Borealis Bullseyes placed 2nd at the Western Regionals in Sandy, Utah, which qualified them for the CMP National 3P Precision Air Rifle Championships here at Camp Perry. This impressive performance has made Utah a favorite match for them.
The team placed 36th overall this week at Camp Perry with an aggregate score of 2,268-100x. They did well and seemed to have fun while doing it too. The team liked Ohio so far and although they didn’t make it out to Cedar Point, Sophie said the team has a great view of the nuclear power plant from their hotel window! They did, however, enjoy a team trip out to Kelleys Island, and tried a local favorite, Toft’s Ice Cream.
A fun ritual the team participates in is dying their hair with blue hairspray. Unfortunately, on the day we spoke they had washed it out because it had gotten all over their suits the day before. As for music, the aux cord in the car goes to Bella, who only plays Taylor Swift on the way home from matches. The girls don’t mind, but Henry is not too keen on the choice, protesting, “It’s terrible, I hate it. It’s 20 songs in a row and I’m just looking out the window trying to tune it out.” He’s outnumbered but his teammates insist that Swift is growing on him and has even been spotted bopping his head along to some songs.
The future is bright for these young athletes. The three seniors are looking ahead and planning for college, although no decisions have been made yet. The Anderson sisters have plans to tour a few colleges, some of which have rifle programs. Henry has a bit more time to think about that than the others as he is starting his junior year of high school. Sophie was excited to be staying behind to shoot in the 3-Position Smallbore National Match, the following day where she placed 72 with an aggregate score of 1,080-20x. It is clear that whatever they decide to do next, if they give it the same dedication and energy as they give the sport of shooting, there’s no doubt that they can and will succeed. Find out more about the CMP Air Rifle Postal Match, set to begin this Fall, at https://thecmp.org/youth/three-position-national-postal-competition.
Interested in joining a Marksmanship Team? Visit the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/clubs/search-clubs/ to find a CMP Affiliated Club near you or reach out to your CMP State Director at https://thecmp.org/training-tech/state-director/.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.