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North Forsyth High School rifle team state-bound
North Forsyth High

After a successful season, the North Forsyth High School riflery team is headed to the state competition.

The team will be one of 14 at the state competition after a one-loss regular season. The state competition will be held on Saturday, April 28 at the Pool International Shooting Complex in Ft. Benning.

“We’re doing good this year,” said Maj. Mac Kelly, coach of the team. “We finished with an 8-1 record, and we qualified last week to represent our area in the state finals that will be next week in Ft. Benning.”

The team participates in two leagues: the Marine Corps JROTC League and the Georgia High School Association.

In the JROTC league, Kelly said the team made the Marine Corps Nationals in February, finishing 11th in the country.

Kelly said shooting has a longer season than most sports and activities on campus.

“They’ve been shooting since September,” Kelly said. “Of the varsity sports, shooting, I think, has the longest season, because we can shoot from September all the way to the end of April. We’ve been going four days a week, two times a day since September. That’s a lot of pellets.”

The team uses Olympic-caliber air rifles and must hit a tiny target from a distance.

“The bullseye on our targets is a little bit smaller than a No. 2 pencil lead, and from 10 meters, it’s awfully hard to see, much less hit,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the school had been to the state “six or seven” times in his time at the school, including a runner-up finish in 2014.

He said the sport takes a good deal of focus. Members of the team show up for practice at 6:30 a.m. and have to watch what they eat.

“It’s a great deal of self-discipline,” Kelly said. “They need to watch their diets. Sugar is a no-no. Caffeine is a no-no. It makes your front sight jump up and down like it’s doing a hula dance. So, the really good shooters watch that. They watch their heart rates. They have to watch the clock.”