Recently, I caught up with the Borealis Bullseyes from Anchorage, Alaska, including rising high school junior Henry Riffe, along with three rising high school seniors, Sophie Wilts, Bella and Cora Anderson (yes, twins) to discuss their journey as a team and future plans. Coach Marshel Reed started this club team back in 2000, and by 2001, his team captured gold at the National Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, and have been chasing another victory ever since.
Training in Alaska can be tough at times. Shooting practice in the winter requires them to drag their bags through three feet of snow, when its minus 20° F. The training is worth it though; the Borealis Bullseyes placed second at the Western Regionals in Sandy, Utah, which qualified them for the CMP National 3-Position Precision Air Rifle Championships here at Camp Perry, Ohio. This impressive performance has made Utah a favorite match for them.
The team placed 36th overall this week at Camp Perry, Ohio, with an aggregate score of 2268-100X. They did well and had fun, too. The team liked Ohio thus far and although they didn’t make it out to Cedar Point, Sophie said the team has a great view of the nuclear power plant from their hotel window. They did, however, enjoy a team trip out to Kelleys Island, and even tried a local favorite, Toft’s Ice Cream.
One ritual the team participates in is dying their hair with blue hairspray. Unfortunately, on the day we spoke, they had washed it out because it had gotten all over their suits the day before. As for music, the aux cord in the car goes to Bella, who only plays Taylor Swift on the way home from matches. The girls don’t mind, but Henry is not too keen on the choice, protesting, “It’s terrible, I hate it. It’s 20 songs in a row and I’m just looking out the window trying to tune it out.” He’s outnumbered but his teammates insist that Swift is growing on him and has even been spotted bopping his head along to some songs.
The future is bright for these young athletes. The three seniors are looking ahead and planning for college, although no decisions have been made yet. The Anderson sisters have plans to tour a few colleges, many of which have rifle programs. As for Henry, he has more time to think about that than the others as he begins his junior year of high school. Sophie was excited to remain behind to shoot in the 3-Position Smallbore competition, the following day where she placed 72nd, with an aggregate score of 1080-20X. It’s clear that whatever they decide to do next, if they give it the same dedication and energy as they give the sport of shooting, there’s no doubt that they will succeed.
Learn more about the Civilian Marksmanship Program at thecmp.org.