by Brent Hinchcliff, 2017 Youth Education Summit Participant –
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Secluded in rural Bedford County, Pa., Everett Area High School provides students with opportunities to learn and experience the value of the shooting sports and the Second Amendment. The schools’ coed rifle team offers a competitive shooting experience that takes students far beyond their county lines.
Each year Everett competes in at least a dozen matches against other schools’ teams as they battle their way to the statewide competition. This past season both the Junior Varsity and Varsity shooting teams went undefeated with an impressive 12 wins. Eleven of the 14 team members set personal best scores, and a team score of 1422 in one match set a new school and league record. The team continued its winning streak at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) State Championships, earning the Smallbore title for the second year in a row.
“The team this year has far exceeded my expectations,” Head Coach Ethan Cessna reflected on the season. “I knew we had a great team, but as the year progressed so did our scores. Our team dynamics this year have been phenomenal and our upperclassmen have been great mentors to the underclassmen. We accomplished everything we set out to do this year and then some.”
NRA Foundation grants have played a consistent role in supporting the program’s success. From 2010 through 2017, the Everett Area School District received six grants totaling nearly $24,000. And the funding continues in 2018, with another grant of nearly $4,000 awarded for the purchase of a gun safe and match-grade ammo. These grants not only help make it possible for young athletes to compete in an exciting sport— they also help the Everett rifle program teach students a wide range of life skills and influence their futures.
One of team’s top athletes is Allison Klavuhn, who led Everett at the Smallbore State Championship with a 566. “Being part of the Everett Rifle Program has greatly improved my high school experience,” she shared. “It has given me many new opportunities that I didn’t know were available. It has not only improved my shooting ability, but has also made me a more focused, responsible and sociable individual. Since I joined, I have made many new friends within the program. It is almost like the team is one big family.”
The team holds practice three to four days a week. During each practice, the athletes spend a majority of the time behind the trigger— athletes practice getting in and out of several positions and work on steadying their aim and finding tranquility.
“One special thing we get to do is our Fun Match at the end of the season,” explained Camden Domahoe, another one of Everett’s top athletes. “Coach Cessna comes up with fun and difficult shooting challenges to try and get us to relax a bit. We’ve split playing cards, shot flames off of candles, and hit erasers off of pencils.”
The opportunities offered by the Everett rifle program are helping students develop new interests and identify post-graduation goals—leading to high ambitions for many of these young athletes. “I hope that upon graduating from high school,” noted Luke Brambley, “this program will help me earn shooting sports scholarships to provide a more affordable way to go to college and maybe one day to compete in the Olympics.”
But firearm education, training and competition is not just a sport or an avenue for seeking scholarships—it is a way of life and a tradition passed down by each generation to the next. The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA recognize the importance of teaching freedom through those methods, and they work to provide youth around the nation with opportunities like the ones available to Everett High School students. These efforts are investments in future generations, instilling in them a respect for our American values and the importance of the Second Amendment—as well as expanding their horizons for becoming passionate, engaged and successful citizens.
Apply for a grant for your shooting sports program at nrafoundation.org. Help Friends of NRA raise the funding for these NRA Foundation grants by attending an event near you! Find one at friendsofnra.org.
Photos credit/Scott Stover
Republished from Traditions Quarter 1: 2018.