BY: KAYLA LASURE
Eastern’s Pershing Rifles club outgunned much of the competition at the National Convention and the General John Joseph Pershing Memorial Drill Competition (NATCON) in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Pershing Rifles brought home 3rd place out of the 20 teams at the three-day competition that concluded March 16.
NATCON is the main competition for the Eastern Pershing Rifles. The competition is every spring and is an event the team prepares for by practicing three days a week for three hours or more at a time. The Pershing Rifles is a co-ed fraternity/ sorority organization that is treated as a military drill team and has been a part of Eastern since 1936 and currently has 17 members.
“I’m fairly proud of what we did and how we’ve been progressing from the beginning of the year to where we are now,” said Cadet Adam Renn, 23, fire and safety engineering technology major from Louisville. “We had some dropped rifles though. If we didn’t have those drops we would have taken overall. They’ll definitely get it next year.”
Renn has been a part of the Pershing Rifles for five years and says this year’s skill level is different and better than his previous years as well as the group’s dedication.
This year the team was awarded first in the dual exhibition portion of the competition, which was performed by cadets Adam Renn and Dylan Baine. In this part of the competition two members of a team perform a synchronized routine, which may include choreography with throwing rifles.
The Pershing Rifles took second place in the squad exhibition and individual exhibition sections of NATCON. The squad exhibition was led by Cadet Renn and was another synchronized routine with nine members. Only one member, Cadet Renn who creates his or her own routine, does the individual exhibition.
Finally, the club took third place in platoon exhibition, squad individual drill regulation and platoon individual drill regulation. The platoon exhibition competition was commanded by Cadet Baine and included 13 members of a team creating different formations while spinning and throwing rifles.
The platoon drill, led by Cadet Kevin Hemmelgarn, consisted of drill movements such as columns and flanks, focusing on precision, military bearing and unit togetherness in competition with other schools. The squad drill, led by Cadet Victoria Powell, is similar to the platoon drill, only with less members participating. The scores from each section of the competition were tallied up for Eastern to take the overall third place in the nation.
“Back when EKU was host to one of the biggest ROTCs in the Nation, was when Pershing Rifles was established,” said Kiker Moses, 21, emergency medical care major from Corbin. “But after the ‘Golden Years’ of ROTC at EKU started to disappear, so did Pershing Rifles. It was re-established about 6-7 years ago under the professor of military science LTC Brett Morris. Since then, we have won first place overall and the title of varsity rifles twice. Once being in 2010 and then last year under my command.”
Moses has been a member since 2009 making this his eighth semester in Pershing Rifles. He was the commander of the club last year and led the team to a national championship. He said the team is already gearing up with new ideas for next year’s NATCON competition and are ready to bring more awards and national titles to Eastern.