By NATHAN WHALEN
Special to the News-Times
An eagle-eyed group of five high school-aged marksmen are preparing to compete in a national competition next month.
The Sabertooth Shooting Squad, comprised of students at Oak Harbor High School, will compete at the Pardini Nationals that take place Jan. 25, 26 and 27 at Camp Perry, Ohio.
The team qualified thanks to their efforts in October in a qualifying match that took place in October in Puyallup, said team president Victor Zarate. They competed against seven teams from across Washington.
His daughter, Tori, has been shooting for two years and is in her third year at Oak Harbor High School’s NJROTC program, where she is a member of the marksmanship team.
She likes the focus marksmanship requires.
“It is such a mental-type sport,” Tori Zarate said, adding that she can work at her own pace.
Also on the team are Madison Thompson, Charlotte Hull-Walton, Theron Hull-Walton and Eemer O’Connell. They are also members of the NJROTC program in Oak Harbor.
Tori said she would like to see the team perform well enough to earn a podium position.
Victor Zarate said the team members are practicing four to five times a week.
The team uses air rifles and the competition consists of shooting 60 shots from a standing position at a target 10 meters away.
Victor said the team is raising money to help pay for their trip to Pardini Nationals. He added that the Sabertooth Shooting Squad is a nonprofit organization and the team competes throughout the state.
“We work 100% off donations in the community,” Zarate said.
If anyone would like to help, call Zarate at 224-754-0217.