Suffield Academy’s unique legacy in riflery
By Kathryn Elliott - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Fri., Feb. 25, 2011
In today’s society, the stigma surrounding firearms is considerable, and with justification. Each day, we turn on the news and are bombarded by random acts of violence erupting in gunfire around the world. What society often forgets is that riflery – the competitive activity – dates back to the turn of the century, and the trained athletes participating in the event recognize the magnitude and degree of responsibility you must possess in order to succeed in the sport.
“Safety” is the one word coach Anna McCarthy instills each and every day with her athletes at the Suffield Academy rifle range. “What we need to make sure of first and foremost is that each student who shows an interest in riflery understands safety always comes first,” McCarthy said. “We do not allow students to even look at a rifle for the first weeks of practice. Each season begins with several days on safety training, and respecting the sport.”
The Tigers’ riflery team – the eight-time Western New England Independent School Riflery League champions – is comprised of both male and female students. “Riflery is uniquely co-ed,” McCarthy said. “On our team and many others, female shooters are right up there with the male shooters, and they compete on equal terms.”
Eager to share the nuances of her sport, McCarthy explained the general principals and guidelines in riflery. “We shoot small-bore rifles [.22-caliber], NRA targets, at 50-feet distance, and compete in the Connecticut High School League. We shoot in four positions: prone (lying down), sitting, kneeling and standing – usually called ‘off-hand.’ The team consists of 10 shooters. The best five scores are summed up for the team score, with the perfect score being 1,000.”
The Tigers are the two-time defending Connecticut state champions, and are fortunate to have Remington Lyman, ranked sixth nationally, as one of their lead shooters. Lyman – whose parents have competed in the sport – recognizes the discipline and focus needed to reach the upper levels of competition. When questioned on the perception of riflery in today’s media, his response was wise beyond years. “If people are looking to get into the sport because they think it is like one of their video games, then they should not bother. This is a serious sport that takes a great deal of commitment. If you don’t have that, don’t even show up,” he said.
Students on this year’s team come to the sport from varying backgrounds; some learning the sport from family, and others never picking up a rifle prior to joining the team. McCarthy recognizes Penn Fisher, Brendan O’Connor, Remington Lyman, Conrad Mish, Sarah Hong and Gina Nasiadka as stand-out competitors this season.
On Feb. 19, the team defeated Avon Old Farms by a score of 975-915. According to the school website, “The Tigers remain undefeated, as this exceptional team score is not only a school record, but also ties the highest score ever attained in the history of the Connecticut High School Riflery League.” The top five scorers were Remington Lyman, Sarah Hong, Penn Fisher, Brendan O’Connor and Conrad Mish.
Suffield Academy Riflery Head Coach Anna McCarthy
Seasons with this team: 21
Assistant Coach: Brett Vianney
Goal for the season: “To defend the title!” McCarthy stated simply.
Captains: Remington Lyman and Conrad Mish
Seniors: Penn Fisher, Brendan O’Connor, Kris Sittheeamorn and Peter Yu
Complete schedule on www.suffieldacademy.org