2004-2005 Air Force Rifle Outlook
The Air Force rifle team is entering 2004-05 with leaps and bounds above its 2003-04 season. This year promises to be one of the most successful in Academy shooting history.
Last year was a physical roller coaster ride for the Falcons. The team started the year off strong with its team goals of returning to the NCAA Championships. Unfortunately, the team had to cope with problems not very common to the sport of rifle--injuries. Two of the best shooters on the team were lost in the fall because of injuries unrelated to shooting. Then junior Matt Colvin had to have knee surgery after aggravating a previous condition dating back to high school. Colvin did not return to shooting until five days before the NCAA qualifier--not enough time to rebound. Colvin was the team leader in air rifle and second on the smallbore team. Colvin's injury was a major setback to the team. The team also lost sophomore Edward Gallagher in late October to appendicitis. Like Colvin, Gallagher did not return to shooting until just prior to the NCAA qualifier. Gallagher was a team member in air rifle and smallbore. Between the two, the team lost half of its starters.
The remaining two starters on the air and smallbore team were both able to have successful individual seasons. Sophomore Christopher Hill qualified for the NCAA Championships in smallbore with an 1166 out of 1200. Hill qualified for the championships shooting just over three points higher than his season average. Hill's season average of 1162.90 in smallbore earned him NCAA All-American honors. Hill fired an 1155 at the NCAA Championships to earn 13th place overall. Hill completed the '03-04 school year by attending the 2004 United States Olympic Team trials in the smallbore prone and three-position events. Hill had an excellent performance and was in fifth place after the first day of the match. Hill finished 13th overall in his first Olympic Trials and is preparing for the 2008 qualification process. The second starter on the team to stay healthy was sophomore. Timothy Siemer. Siemer also attended the 2004 Olympic Trials for the prone event. While Siemer did not qualify for the finals, his training and experience greatly improved his position and techniques preparing him for the 2004-2005 season.
The 2004-05 season is gearing up to be the best ever in Falcon rifle history. With six experienced shooters returning to the team and six new members, the team is deeper than previous years and healthy so far. In addition to Hill, Colvin, Gallagher, and Siemer, the team also has sophomores Michelle Bonneau (smallbore and air rifle) and Andrew Simpson (smallbore) returning. These six shooters will be the core of the team throughout the year. In the air rifle event the team has a new starter, sophomore walk-on Jessica Palomba. Palomba is entering her first year in NCAA rifle and will be a first-team starter and this year's All-American candidate.
According to head coach Justin Broughton, "The team is the deepest and best balanced ever. The depth of the six returning members plus six new members will help the team maintain an excellent performance for the years to come."
In addition to having great shooters this year, the team staff is the best it has ever been. Broughton enters his sixth year as the head coach and adds two new members to the staff. Second lieutenant Matthew Miller, USAFA class of 2004, is a volunteer coach helping with administration of the team while awaiting a follow on assignment. Miller is slated to be a logistics officer and will be with the team until the summer of 2005. The team also welcomes Lt Col Bill Roy as an assistant coach. Lt Col Roy is a former fighter pilot, instructor and commander at USAFA, and civilian airline pilot. Roy is very experienced at the national and international levels of international skeet shooting. He is a five time World Champion and 1996 US Olympic Team member. "Both Miller and Roy are excellent additions to the program which will provide excellent leadership and teaching to the cadets on the team," Broughton said.
The cadets on the team are faced with one of the hardest match schedule in recent years. Most of the scheduled competitions are against teams in the top five in the nation. The rest are against top 10 schools and schools that were not yet ranked but will be by they end of the season. "The tough schedule should encourage the Falcons to continually improve and show them who they have to beat to win at the national championships," Broughton added.
The team started training in late August and will be ready for the NCAA qualification process in February 2005. Broughton is predicting that the team should be attending the 2005 NCAA Championships and have multiple All-Americans during what if sees can be the best season ever for the team.