By JENNA SEIGWORTH
Rifle Club is a team advocated through Cranberry High School that practices at the Oil City Izaak Walton’s League. Currently, Rachel Bell, Austin Seigworth, and Hayden Bell are the three members who participate from CHS.
Both Austin, a second-year member of the team, and Rachel, a five-year member, competed in the 2018 CMP National 3 Position Air Rifle Match. Hayden Bell, who has competed for five years, was a contender in the 2017 National Jr. Olympics for Air Rifle, won silver in the 2018 National Jr. Olympics for Air Rifle in the J3 Men’s Division, and won silver in the 2018 National Jr. Olympics for 22 Rifle in the J3 Men’s Division.
Rachel Bell, a junior, says Rifle Club “…practices shooting precision 22 rifles and air rifles for upcoming competitions. It is about maintaining a high level of accuracy for long periods of time.”
The team meets from September to June, as well as holding additional practices in the off season. Competitions for Rifle Club have been held in Murrysville, Pa., Jamestown, N.Y., Camp Perry, Ohio, and Colorado Springs, CO.
The head coach for Rifle Club is Steve Knight, and their two additional mentors are Ray Swidorsky and Eric Messner.
When asked about her favorite aspect of rifle club, Rachel Bell’s response was “My favorite aspect would have to be that the other shooters [trained student athletes] and my coaches have become a second family to me. I can come to them about any problem, and they will always have my back.”
Austin, also a junior, said, “I like the fact that we are all so close we have basically turned into a family, and we travel all around the U.S. together.”
For Rachel, her part in Rifle Club began at a young age. “After my first successful year hunting, my grandfather saw a brochure and asked if I wanted to go,” she says. The rest is history. Rachel has been participating since 2013 and officially joined the club in 2015. She practices religiously three nights a week, every week, all year long.
When asked what was one thing that people should know about Rifle Club, Rachel responded, “It is not a dangerous sport. Safety has been, is, and always will continue to be the top priority within the organization.”
Austin has always wanted everyone to know that “ It takes many hours of practice each week too gain the skill to compete on this level. The rifles we use are valued at over $3,000 dollars each!”
Jenna Seigworth is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications group.