Off Beat: ROTC rifle squad gets the lead out for the win

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During the school year that just wrapped up, Columbian readers have been able to follow the exploits of lots of successful students.

Some of their accomplishments came in the classroom, and some were achieved in a wide range of competitions.

But the students tended to share some characteristics, and often followed similar paths to success.

The to-do list for one championship team might serve as an example — with a notable exception.

• Talent? Check.

• Instruction? Check.

• Hard work? Check.

• Ammunition? Czech.

That would be the Junior Air Force ROTC air rifle squad at Battle Ground High School. The BGHS sharpshooters and their counterparts at Prairie High were able to overcome a pellet problem on their paths to success.

According to a Battle Ground district newsletter, there were local concerns about possible health hazards posed by lead ammunition in indoor shooting ranges, so the two teams shut down their practices in March 2010. ROTC instructors looked for an alternative, and practice finally resumed in October with nonlead pellets.

Despite missing a lot of practice, Battle Ground went on to win the precision class this year in the national championships, where Prairie High’s riflemen also excelled.

The pellets, made of tin and bismuth, are manufactured in the Czech Republic.

Strictly business

Another topic that combines health and the possibility of projectiles came to our attention. A man was talking about his diagnostics business for a piece on local employers.

His company creates technology that tests saliva to diagnose medical conditions. His products can check a wide range of physical indicators, all without the use of needles.

During the course of the conversation, our story contact mentioned that he had an international business trip coming up.

“I hope you can have some fun,” the newsroom staffer told him.

“It’s a conference on spit,” the businessman replied.

“How much fun can you have?”

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.