by Hannah Bartlett
Shooting at a target may seem easy, but when you are shooting from three different positions, controlling your breathing, and all the while keeping the rifle steady, the challenge becomes immense. Air rifle is that challenge. In this sport, the amount of experience you have does not determine how good you are at it. Saige-Caleigh Dayacos has only been shooting for two years and is the number one shooter on the team. Asked to join the team by fellow senior Chalseah Pascua, she decided to give it a try. After shooting for a year, she went back the next season because she was “okay at it, so I might as well shoot,” Saige-Caleigh stated.
In air riflery, there are three positions to shoot; prone, kneeling, and standing. For Saige, prone, which is laying on your stomach, is the easiest because you have the most control over the rifle. When you’re kneeling or standing there is no way to balance the rifle besides the control of your hands. Air riflery is “fun and you get to meet a lot of new people,” she says, “but the hardest part is dealing with stress of doing well enough to place and score decently, but I just breathe and calm down by singing myself a song.” Stress is something that comes with any sport, but unlike most sports, the stress of air rifle is totally on you. not the entire team.
How you score is what makes or breaks your chances of going to states and championship matches, so the pressure to score a high enough score out of 600 can be a lot. Since Saige-Caleigh is the only one in her family that has ever shot for an air riflery team, she convinced her little brother to try out and he is planning on following in her footsteps and shooting when he’s older.
For the Lausterer family, air riflery is a family sport. Each one of Sara Lausterer’s sisters have shot for WHIS; which is part of the reason she’s the number two shooter on the team. Both of her parents are very involved in the sport, and help out with coaching and helping new students learn how to handle and take care of the rifle. Having your family supporting you and guiding you through something that they have all been through before, is helpful when dealing with the pressure.
Besides it being a family thing, Sara shoots because of the scholarships. Getting an air riflery scholarship would be great for Sara, or anyone of her sisters since there’s six Lausterer girls. “If you’re good at something and you can get money and scholarships from it, continue to do it,” she said. The hardest part about air riflery Sara says is, “getting people to do their stuff that needs to get done, on time, and well.” Being team captain last year, Sara knows how to get her team to do the things they need to do without being bossy. Her teammates have respect for her and listen, most of the time. She prepares for matches by controlling her breathing and listening to music. She would like to thank her parents, her coach, and last but not least her teammates for the support throughout the years, she couldn’t do it without them.
From the long drives to the North Shore, staying at practice until 6pm, to staying up until 3am scoring and submitting scores, shows that being an air riflery coach takes serious dedication. Since the WHIS team shoots their matches on campus, Head Coach Jonathan Knox has to make sure that everything is set up correctly and nobody is breaking any rules – safety is always first.
If you ask any air rifle shooter, they’ll all admit to double shooting a target; which automatically takes two points off your score. Double shooting is the number one mistake every shooter makes, and can knock down your confidence while shooting. Scoring a double shot can be difficult to score because when Coach Knox scores, it’s based of his memory; so he has to recall whose target is whose, and who double shot and where. Being a coach is also stressful, you have to be very well organized, honest, and have to get scores in on time so that they count. The parents of the team members help out at times with staying late while someone finishes shooting, encouraging the team to do well, and supporting them through school, and air riflery.
The Air Riflery program at Waialua is growing, with Sara Lausterer, Cassidy Heath, and Brooke Barbosa qualifying for the 2016 Girls State Championships. As the team improves, shooting for the stars seems to be a likely possibility.