A match against Riverside Military Academy on Jan. 18 provided the home team a chance to welcome a neighboring team and hone skills practiced over the first semester and through the holidays. Despite a late start with the team not forming until after school started, coaches Casey Barron and Tim Stamey were pleased with the final scores.
TFS finished with a total of 1,044 points to RMA’s 1,083. The all-freshman team, led by Ben Fisher of Clayton  and followed by Samantha Stamey of Clarkesville , Jack Green of Demorest , Baylor Carnes of Demorest  and Gabe Basso of Buford  finished strong, Stamey said.
When the big day arrived, team members assisted RMA shooters to set up their individual equipment and then in true TFS fashion, socialized with their opponents over pizza after the match.
“Coach Walker from RMA said they had never experienced this level of hospitality from a competitor,” Stamey said.
Admitting nervousness on match day the TFS shooters were reminded that it was an indication their hard work had paid off and they had succeeded in getting to this point, he added.
The team employed deep breathing exercises to slow down heart rate and to channel adrenaline from nervousness to increase their focus. Four of the five TFS athletes in their first real match shot better scores than they had ever achieved in practice, he said.
“Concentrating on individual shooting processes, having faith in their training and producing such scores demonstrated their commitment to excellence,” he said.
“RMA, with a history of success in riflery, showed up with a team including seniors and veterans of state championship matches,” Stamey said. “The No. 1 shooter of the match shot a 291, which is only one point from automatic inclusion in the State Championship. Incredibly, Ben Fisher of TFS came in second with a score of 276, which is unheard of for a beginning shooter’s first match.”
Made up of multiple 6A and 7A schools, Area 6 Riflery is one of the toughest areas in the state; the TFS score of 1,044 is the seventh highest score out of 15 recorded in Area 6 for the first matches of the season, according to Stamey.
“The determined and focused TFS Shooters overcame adversity to show what it truly means to be GREAT!” Stamey added.
Noting how far the team has advanced since its quick start last Fall is important to remember, Stamey said.
“Wearing shooting suits pieced together in an unorthodox way, team members showed up the end of September determined and ready to train,” Stamey said. “The athletes showed progress and persevered while continuously being reminded that ‘it’s not the arrow but the Indian.’”
“Limited practices were held until Nov. 6, when a range location was secured. Undaunted, the Indians went to work,” he said. “Voluntarily giving up Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, the team spent countless hours on the range. With up to one minute per shot in prone/kneeling and 90 seconds for standing position, the athletes fired more than 5,000 practice shots before the first match.”
The team has its next match against White County on Jan. 25, at the University of North Georgia range.
[Feature Photo by E. Lane Gresham / TFS]