I caught up with the Borealis Bullseyes from Anchorage, Alaska to speak with rising high school senior Henry Riffe and high school senior Sophie Wilts, Bella Anderson, Cora Anderson (yes, twins) to discuss their journey as a team and their future plans. Coach Marshel Reed started this club team in 2000. In 2001, his team won gold at the National Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been chasing another victory ever since.
Training in Alaska can be difficult at times. Winter target practice requires them to haul their bags through 3 feet of snow, when it’s -20°F. However, the training paid off; Borealis Bullseyes placed 2North Dakota at the Western Regionals in Sandy, Utah, which qualified them for the 3P CMP Precision Air Rifle National Championship here at Camp Perry. This impressive performance has made Utah his favorite game.
The team placed 36he overall this week at Camp Perry with a total score of 2,268-100x. They did it well and seemed to have fun doing it too. The team has liked Ohio so far and although they didn’t make it to Cedar Point, Sophie said the team has a great view of the nuclear power plant from their hotel window. However, they did enjoy a team trip to Kelleys Island and sample a local favorite, Toft’s Ice Cream.
A fun ritual the team participates in is dyeing their hair with blue hairspray. Unfortunately, the day we spoke they had washed it because it had stained their suits the day before. As for music, the car’s aux cord goes to Bella, who only plays Taylor Swift on the drive home from games. The girls don’t care, but Henry doesn’t really like the choice and he protests, “It’s terrible, I hate it. It’s 20 songs in a row and I’m just looking out the window trying to tune out.” He’s outnumbered, but her teammates insist Swift is growing with him and has even been seen nodding to some songs.
The future is bright for these young athletes. The three seniors are looking to the future and planning for college, though 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 little more time to think about that than the others, since he’s starting his freshman year of high school. Sophie was excited to drop behind to shoot in the Smallbore National 3-way match, the next day, where she placed 72nd with a total score of 1,080-20x. It is clear that whatever they decide to do next, if they give it the same dedication and energy that they give to the sport of shooting, there is no doubt that they can and will succeed. Learn more about the CMP Air Rifle Postal Combat, which will kick off this fall, at https://thecmp.org/youth/three-position-national-postal-competition.
Are you 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 contact 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 firearms safety and marksmanship training and the promotion of marksmanship competition for United States citizens. To learn more about the CMP and its programs, log on to www.TheCMP.org.