Quaker Shooters Began Their Season


Dawn Slusarz

This photo shows Mr. Johnson, Amelia Slusarz, and Finn Johnson (from left to right) at their scrimmage.

Amelia Slusarz, Staff Reporter

On Thursday, December 2nd, the shooters started their season with a scrimmage against Lancaster, where the three-year head coach of the team, Mr. Johnson, coached before coming to Orchard Park.

“Think center.  Aim center.  Shoot center.”  These are the words that the Orchard Park Varsity Rifle team hears from their coach, Mr. Johnson, everyday.  He began coaching during the 2019 season, and is a technology teacher at the middle school.

The Orchard Park Varsity Rifle Team began its match season on Tuesday, December 7th against the Pioneer Varsity Rifle Team.  They lost with a team score of 1092.  Even though this qualified them for sectionals in the first match,  Pioneer scored better, with a 1116.

The team has matches scheduled most Tuesdays and Thursdays between now and the end of the regular season, in February.  They qualified for sectionals as a team, which will take place on February 19, 2022 at Kenmore High School.  In the first match, three shooters from the team qualified individually for sectionals, and they are hoping to have more qualify throughout the season.

The team practices daily in the middle school cafeteria from 3 to 6 p.m.  Last year, the team got a 10-point portable range in order to shoot on campus.  For previous seasons, they shot at Buffalo Rifle and Revolver in West Seneca, but due to COVID concerns this was not an option.  Most of the members shoot a 9015 Junior Anschutz air rifle that shoots .177” caliber pellets.  The match shooters also use shooting pants, jackets, and boots in order to help stabilize them.  

“I like rifle because it is a team sport, but also an individual sport.  If you have an off day, you can count on your teammates to be there,” said Finn Johnson when asked what he likes about being a part of the team.

The Orchard Park Varsity Rifle Team consists of 10 match shooters who will compete at matches and then 15 other students who are developing their skills.  At each match, shooters have 60 minutes to complete 3 targets, each consisting of 10 shots.  The goal is to shoot a perfect 300, a center on each target.  To qualify for sectionals, a score of 270 must be achieved by an individual.

Out of the 10 match shooters, the top 4 scores will be taken for the team score at each match.  The team wins a match if the scores of their top 4 shooters are higher than the top 4 scores from the other school.  Last year, Orchard Park ended with a 4-3 record, which was their first winning record in a long time.  This year they are hoping to have an even better record because great strides have been made in the previous two seasons.  During the 2019 season, they qualified for sectionals as a team, which was the first time in over a decade.  They qualified again last year, and shooter, Owen Dorsheimer, came in first place for individual offhand.

Dorsheimer is the team’s top shooter.  He ended last season with an average of 276.67, which is expected to increase this year.  He is currently a senior, and this is his fourth year on the team.  Two other seniors, Lizzy Kondol and Amelia Slusarz, also have been on the team for the past two years.  Kondol’s average last year was 262, and Slusarz’s average was 254.

“I like rifle because it is a mental game.  You have to be determined to shoot to the best of your ability and have the sense to always push yourself to do your best,”  said Kondol when asked what she likes about the rifle team.

“Focus, discipline, determination.”  Again, heard everyday by the team from Mr. Johnson, will be the way to the team’s success this year.  The Orchard Park team has seen great improvements in the past few years.  They got a lot of new equipment, and their scores have increased greatly.  With this in mind, the team is hoping to get their first sectionals win in team history this year.