With 75 seconds and one shot left in an all-day match, the top eight to emerge from Hawaii’s 51best high school junior marksmen stood shoulder to shoulder before a capacity crowd at Saint Louis School’s rifle range, ready to make history. The gold, silver, and bronze medals would all be determined by the final shot. The range officer gave the commands to load their final round and fire. Eight Precision Olympic Air Rifles popped like a muffled firecracker string.
Out of 500 possible points, a mere seven tenths of a point crowned Kapolei High senior Arlene Estabillo (474.9) as Champion of the Aloha Invitational Matches (AIM 2011) with Punahou junior Linda Char (474.2) earning the Silver medal. A nearly perfect 100.9 score in the ten shot final round boosted Kamehameha’s Keanu Paikai (472.9) from fourth to a Bronze medal. Sacred Hearts’ Kristie Thornburg (467.2) and Moanalua High’s Matthew Inn (467.2) tied for fourth and fifth position. Completing the top eight Finalists were Punahou’s Alexander Kimura (463.6), Sacred Hearts’ Cecelia Wong (461.7) and Punahou’s Christie Obatake (454.8).
The Aloha Invitational Matches(AIM 2011) organized by the Hawaii Friends of NRA, and sponsored by the Hawaii Rifle Association and the Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club represents the culmination of six years of effort to provide Olympic style Precision Air Rifle equipment and college scholarship eligibile league competition opportunities to Hawaii’s public school, charter school, and home-schooled student athletes. The Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) conducts an outstanding Sporter Air Rifle varsity program and State Championship, however “Sporter” scores are not considered by most college and NCAA coaches for athlete selection. For the past eight years only the private school members of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH) competed in a Precision Air Rifle season. Precision Air Rifle is shot only in the hardest, standing position, using more complex and sophisticated air rifles, and adding special shooting clothes and shoes.
This year the Oahu Precision Air Rifle Club League was formed and conducted it’s first season of matches during January and February parallel to the ILH season. Participating schools, equipped by grants from the Hawaii Friends of NRA included Kaimuki High, Leilehua High, Pearl City High, Roosevelt High, Waianae High, and a composite team hosted and trained by volunteers from Mid Pacific Gun Club (MPGC) for the home-schooled, charter school, and students from schools without a Precision team. This year’s MPGC team included students from Kapolei, Moanalua, Castle, Academy of the Pacific, and Maryknoll.
After two years of budget cuts that deleted transportation to matches for the Oahu Interscholastic League Sporter Air Rifle teams, the Club League was the first opportunity for face-to-face league matches for many students. “We shot at our range, they shot in their gym miles away, and the scores were phoned in. We never meet our opponents and it’s hard to get mentally up for a match,” remarked Joana Endo of Waianae High. “The Club League matches bring back the sportsmanship, the challenge, and the fun. You learn a lot from the other teams, too.”
The best of the Club League teams and the ILH teams met at the Aloha Invitational Matches to determine the first Hawaii Precision Air Rifle State Champions. The AIM 2011 Open Championship Team was Punahou School (Linda Char, Alexander Kimura, Christie Obatake, Erik Oberacker) with a combined score of 1461 points. Pearl City High captured the top Intermediate Team honors (Milton Ibera, Sean Lamorena, Tyler Hamada, Stanley Taguchi) scoring 1290 points. The top Novice team was earned with a score of 1352 points by Saint Louis School/Sacred Hearts Academy (Sara Tashima, Angela Wong, Justine Wong, Chanelle Ulep).
Earning the Aloha Awards for the best novice scores were Sara Tashima (353/400) of Sacred Hearts Academy, and Kelli Shimazu (351/400) and Jamie Obatake (350/400) both from Punahou School.
“The Club League was run entirely by donations and volunteers. There was no Department of Education or school athletic budget funding,” said Dawn Horn, Friends of NRA’s AIM Coordinator. “We thank our volunteer coaches for their time and expertise, and our sponsors for donating targets, pellets, and awards.”
Horn announced that an Air Rifle Coach Certification Course and Junior shooting camp would be held in July on Maui. For more information about coach training e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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