Camden County High marksmanship team makes state, national history as champions

Camden County High School’s marksmanship team made history as state and national champions.

The team has only been active since 2019, so the win broke a record.

For the cadets to reach these kinds of accolades so quickly is impressive. Watching them in action was even more astounding.

Jordan de Jesus proved hitting the mark is not hard for the Camden County High School sharpshooters.

“You cannot control what anybody else does on the line,” de Jesus said, who is a senior this year. “But what you can do is show up and be a good team member on the range, off the range, during practice, during matches, before matches, after matches.”

Virginia Byrd is a part of the team and historic run.

“For a team to work, the teammates have to communicate,” Byrd said, who is a junior. “They have to work with each other, they have to help each other and kind of hype each other up.”

The team competes on two different circuits.

In the last high school season, this marksmanship team had a perfect record. The team won the Georgia state championship and finished with the highest score ever: 1175.

Lt. Col. Stephen Banta, the team’s coach, explained the most important part of being a sharpshooter is coming together.

“They work hard at it and they are up for the challenge,” Banta, the marksmanship coach, said. “It is not done by any one individual. It is truly a team effort. It just goes to how dedicated they are.”

The team also competes in an NJROTC season. It just won back-to-back titles in the Navy Nationals and set a new record with a score of 4646. The cadets won the most recent national championship in February in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Byrd said being a part of this team reshaped her life.

She has her sights set on joining the Air Force and competing in college. Byrd eventually hopes to take her talent to the Olympics.

“It helps you a lot with not just rifle, but with everything else in life,” Byrd said. “School work, stuff at home, having a job.”

De Jesus is the captain and shot a perfect 300 score in a match once. She said this is her passion.

“You can be inspired to do something,” she said. “But if you’re not going to put in the work, without the discipline, then you are not going to be able to achieve your dreams.”

The Cadets put the News4Jax crew to the test.

Reporter Aaron Farrar hit the target during two attempts. Photojournalist Jesse Hanson shot a near-perfect score during his round.

The cadets proved that this skill requires mental toughness and discipline.

By the evidence of the hardware they hoisted over the last year, it seems they have mastered it.

De Jesus is grateful to be a part of the journey.

“It is something that I will always treasure forever,” she said.

De Jesus and Byrd are being highly recruited by colleges across the country. A year ago, they both competed in the Junior Olympics in Colorado.

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