Editor’s note: Students in News-Miner photographer Eric Engman’s Photojournalism I class at the University of Alaska Fairbanks recently
completed their final projects for the semester. Today, we’re presenting the
work of Fred Monrean Jr., a senior photojournalism major from Ketchikan.
FAIRBANKS —The University of Alaska Fairbanks has had a rifle team of one kind or another since the 1920s, and in 1964 the team won its first national championship in the National Rifleman’s Association league. In 1980 the team joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and aside from 2005, the team was named national champion from 1998 until 2008.
Head coach Dan Jordan attributes the downward turn during the last few years to a breakdown in the team’s synergy — that the mental confidence in an individual team member’s own abilities is tied to the confidence of the entire team, that the “team family atmosphere” provides an aura of competition, a push to improve, and a confidence that can be obtained no other way. All that is turning around, according to Jordan, who said he believes this year’s team has developed the best bond he’s seen since the championship teams.
With seven out of 12 members being freshmen, this year’s team members may still be getting to know each other, but they are working to ensure a strong bond.
“In years past the team goals were primarily score-based with everyone working to maintain a minimum score,” team captain Mats Eriksson explained while showing off a list of team goals. “This year we changed things up, and for the first part of the season the goals are more attitude-based.”
Members are expected to ask each other for help on a daily basis, as well as give and accept compliments from each other.
“We help each other out with everything,” freshmen shooter Jaimie Barnes said. “Life, homework, shooting ... you put it out there and people help.”
Riflery requires a positive attitude and a strong core to support your stance, both of which require time to build and maintain. When combined with other responsibilities facing college students, one has to ask how they have time for a social life. “The team is our social life to a large extent,” said Eriksson, who traveled to Alaska from Sweden to join the team. “We are from far away, so this is our substitute family.”