There is no questioning that Turlock High School junior Larry Maloney is one sharp shooter. Just last month, Maloney garnered the highest score nationwide during his participation in the Navy Junior Reserves Officers Training Corps marksmanship program.
Although Maloney attempted to dismiss this feat as “normal,” Senior Naval Science Instructor, Major Kelly Cross stepped in to report otherwise.
“He was surprised when I told him. At first he didn’t believe me,” recalled Cross. “And then I showed him the scores.”
Maloney earned recognition among 2,800 other cadets after he earned a score of 282 during the November competition. The cadet was also honored as the third best shooter out of 9,500 cadets in all JROTC branches nationwide.
When asked how he was able to achieve such an impressive score, Maloney credits his success to practice, practice, and more practice.
“I practiced shooting for months on end—every day was practice,” said Maloney. “Shooting helps me release my stress. All I have to do is forget everything, look at the target, and pull the trigger.”
Maloney originally became involved in NJROTC after acknowledging the feeling that he wanted to be different from his family. Thinking of a way to combine his desire to join the military and his love of shooting, he came to the conclusion that NJROTC was the perfect program.
“I wanted something that I could look back on and be proud of and this program helps build character” reported Maloney. “Before, I was just another kid who didn’t like rules or discipline. Now I am a leader.”
Maloney is set to attend the Navy National Air Rifle Championship in Arizona along with the rest of the school’s marksmanship team. One of his fellow cadets and team members, Adriana Valencia, is doing everything she can to prepare for the February competition.
“I keep track of everything so if I have a bad shooting day, I know why,” reported Valencia. “One thing I really need to work on is my diet. The slightest amount of sugar can really throw off a shot and your focus.”
In the meantime, Cross reports that his cadets will continue to practice every day until the competition. In the event that THS NJROTC program is one of the top six teams to compete in the Navy National Air Rifle Championship in February, they will move on to compete against all JROTC branches in the nation.
“One of the biggest problems is that they expect every shot to be a nine or a ten, so when it’s not they start thinking about their score and not about shooting,” said Cross. “This program teaches them to just let go, take a little break, and to really focus on getting that next shot.”