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cadet blogs

Scholastic Steel Challenge 2011

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
 Jessica Nelson This semester I decided to try out for the Combat Arms team, which is the Academy’s tactical shooting team. After an interview and a test shoot, I made the team and started the two-a-week practices. Us new team members started off by taking the basic pistol qualification test, which is a series of timed shooting intervals that range from 12 minutes to less than thirty seconds. Now, for some personal background, I am not a very experienced or practiced shooter. However, I knew this team would teach me a lot, and I would have some fun in the process. Still, to my dismay, I did poorly on this first basic pistol test, getting an 89 when I needed a 113 to pass. With the help of Gunner (the Academy’s Chief Warrant Officer for the range) and the rest of the team, I was able to pass the test the next practice with a 114. My next goal is Sharp Shooter or Expert, but these goals will definitely take some more practice.

So you might be wondering what exactly does the Combat Arms team do? I know when I first made the team, I wasn’t exactly sure either, but to give you an idea, here is what we did this past weekend.

On Friday morning, the team loaded up a couple of vans with three pistols and enough ammo for the weekend, and we headed up to Hartford for a brief pistol practice. When we reached Hartford, we set up two stages of the Scholastic Steel challenge that we were going to shoot the next day. While each stage is different, the general set up is to have four steel targets staggered apart and another steel target that acts as the stop plate. Then each contestant gets unlimited ammunition to hit the targets as fast as they can and finishing with the stop plate to end the timer. A good marksman can complete some of the stages in less than three seconds.

After running through the two stages for practice, we loaded up the vans again and headed up further north to stay at one of the team member’s house for the night. The next morning, we all bundled up for a day on the range and drove to Exeter, New Hampshire, where the Sig Sauer Academy is located. After we all registered and dry fire practiced some more, the Scholastic Steel Challenge began. Our team, along with the teams from Harvard, Yale, and Vermont, were broken into squads of five, and we each ran through four different stages. At each stage we were given five tries to reach our best time, with the worst time thrown out for grading purposes.

The first stage we went to, I went first for my squad, and let me tell you, I was nervous! After that however, I was raring to go and excited for the rest of the competition. Then came the second stage. Like I said before, I am not a great shooter, but that stage was beyond hard for me, and the third stage proved to be just as difficult.

By the time we got to the fourth stage, I was frustrated but determined to end well on the last stage. This time I went last, and when I stepped up to table, loaded the pistol, and got ready for the timer to start, my mind was focused on everything that I had been taught up to then. Line up the sites. Smooth trigger pull, and repeat. When the timer started, I focused in on the first target, pulled the trigger and missed. I shot again and again and missed again and again. Finally, I pulled the trigger and was rewarded with the ever-satisfying ping.

With the timer still racing, I quickly moved to the next target. Smooth trigger pull.! After that first target, I was able to hit all of the other targets in one or two shots, reaching one of my best times all day. It was a great way to finish off the competition. Overall, I had a great time and learned a lot to take with me into practices and future competitions. While the scores haven’t been finalized yet, I know the rest of the team had a lot of fun.

So that is just a brief example of what the Academy’s Combat Arms team does. Even though this is my first year doing it, I have really enjoyed the team and the sport itself. Everyone helps everyone on the range, and while we all have fun, we are all focused on safety and learning how to handle the firearms properly. These sorts of skills are definitely going to carry out into the Coast Guard, and I am excited to one day go to Boarding Officer School and learn how to use them to help with maritime law enforcement. As always, if you have any questions about the team or the Academy in general, send me an email! Happy Veteran’s Day and God bless.

More about Jessica.