One last shot: Seabury’s air riflery team concludes their third season


Lauren Sieberg

Seabury Hall’s air riflery team practices in the Performing Arts Studio for the upcoming MIL championship.

Lauren Sieberg, Staff Writer

Most students at Seabury look forward to the last week of the first quarter coming to an end. Meanwhile, the Seabury Hall air riflery team eagerly awaits their third and final competition at Baldwin on Saturday, October 15.

The team will compete tomorrow in the MIL championship, which is the third and final competition in the 2016 air riflery season before states. They have been competing for three consecutive years against numerous other Maui schools.

The story behind the creation of Seabury’s air riflery team is certainly an inspiring one. When his son was in eighth grade, head coach Emiliano Achaval learned that his son had been born with discoid meniscus, a condition affecting one of his knees that prevented him from playing almost all competitive sports. Achaval wanted to start an air riflery team because it’s an incredibly safe sport that anyone – especially people like his son – can play.

“This is a sport for that kid that is the last one that they pick for the volleyball team, the kid on the sidelines wishing he could play football but he’s not big enough, or the kid that has asthma,” Achaval said. “Anybody can do it.”

When Robert Dougherty became the new head of the sports department at Seabury Hall, he decided to call Achaval into his office to discuss the possibility of starting a team. Achaval enthusiastically accepted, and the team was created shortly after.

In the three years that followed, the team has grown to become a tight-knit family of twenty-six players, three co-coaches, and one head coach.

“A lot of our juniors and seniors have been shooting all three years, and it’s nice to see them develop a bond like on any other team,” stated co-coach Richie Franco. “It’s cool when you see something as separate as this, how they come together as friends.”

In the beginning of a normal Tuesday or Thursday afternoon practice, players that arrive around 3:30 work together to prepare by filling their guns with pressurized air. After laying down mats, setting up the targets, and acquiring some pellets to shoot, the team is ready for action.

Players choose one of three positions to shoot at a target ten meters away: prone, which involves the shooter laying down on his or her stomach, standing, or kneeling. The team members then rotate between the three stations, completing as many relays as possible before practice ends at 5:30.

After finishing up one complete round, the team takes a pause to check their scores. A player’s score is determined by how close the hole is to the center of twelve separate circles.

A perfect score is 300, which is an incredibly rare feat in any competition. Achaval stated that the highest score a Seabury student has received is “close to 240.” The maximum possible score doubles to 600 for the MIL competition.

Numerous team members agreed that, while they were drawn to the sport for multiple reasons, the most attractive aspect of the sport to them was its uniqueness. “It’s not your conventional sport, it’s very different in the sense where there’s not as much physical exertion. But, it’s still a sport,” shared Taylie Kawakami, a new air riflery team member and freshman.

In the opinion of most team members, air riflery is a sport they would recommend to those who want to work on training their brains to focus and their bodies to breathe evenly, while simultaneously having fun while shooting.

“While there is a physical component, the biggest challenges for a competitor to overcome are psychological,” said co-coach Nelson Heerema. “It’s very easy to pick up an air rifle and hit a target; it’s very difficult to get consistent high scores.”

While the 2016 season is nearly over, students who are considering joining air riflery next year should never be afraid to try it out.

“I would just say go for it,” Kawakami advises new or interested players. “If it’s something you’re interested in and something that you want to do, just go for it, don’t hesitate. The coaches are super fun and nice, and you’ll fit right in if you want to do it.”