November 4th, 2018

Girls Just Want to Have Fun — Jersey Girls ‘Rattle Battle’ Team

Camp Perry Rattle Battle NJ New Jersey Girls female National Infantry Team match

Girls just want to have fun. That was the case at Camp Perry this past summer during the National Trophy Infantry Team match (NTIT), more commonly known as the “Rattle Battle”. Among the many shooting squads was a talented team of young ladies from New Jersey — the Garden State Gunners Girls. CMP officials believe this is the first-ever all-female Rattle Battle team. Congrats to the Gunners Girls for being Rattle Battle pioneers!

Report based on story Serena Juchnowski, CMP Guest Writer
“I thought it would be a good promotion for the shooting sports to put together an all-girls team,” said NJ Garden State Gunners Coach Walter Bachmann. “This was the first year that we were able to do that… at Camp Perry.” During the 2018 National Matches, New Jersey fielded what, to everyone’s knowledge, was the first all-female team to ever compete in the National Trophy Infantry Team match. Coach Bachmann recounted that “Dick Whiting, the head coach from West Virginia, came to me and he said he was very upset with me because he’s been trying to do this for four years, and I beat him to it.”

Bachmann had been trying to get an all-girls team together for several years. In 2017, he finally had six female juniors on the team, but one was unable to attend Nationals, so 2018 was the year for them to do it, with six females able to attend and one aging out of the junior program.

While the teams for the National Trophy Team (NTT) match were determined based on skill, Bachmann split the team according to gender for the Rattle Battle. This was a decision that had been discussed and resolved by the girls themselves. For example, team member Shelby Falk “really loved the idea” of an all-girls junior team. Shelby viewed it as making a statement for equality: “Everyone’s opinion coming to the subject was very different… I just thought overall it was just a really good thing to do.”

Camp Perry Rattle Battle NJ New Jersey Girls female National Infantry Team match
Face paint is a Rattle Battle tradition for the Garden State Gunners – this year was no exception!

Camp Perry Rattle Battle NJ New Jersey Girls female National Infantry Team match
The Gunners Girls pose for a picture before the NTIT, aka “Rattle Battle”.

Garden State Gunners Girls Beat the Boys’ Team
The Garden State Gunners junior team started as a smallbore squad, but in 2008, the team took up centerfire shooting also. That was the first year the team traveled to Camp Perry with two girls and four guys. A decade later, the Garden State Gunners traveled to the Camp Perry National Matches with two teams — six girls and six boys.

Notably, though they had a few mag-related malfunctions, the Gunners Girls still managed to beat the New Jersey boys team (Garden State Gunners Red). The Gunners Girls concluded the Rattle Battle with a score of 592. Garden State Gunners Red finished with a score of 265.

Camp Perry Rattle Battle NJ New Jersey Girls female National Infantry Team match
The Garden State Gunners team hopes to make an all-girls Rattle Battle team a tradition, but it may be difficult with some girls aging out. Team members praised their coach, Walter Bachmann.

Gunners Girls Competitor Profiles
Firing members on the 2018 Garden State Gunners Girls Rattle Battle Team included Shelby Falk, Amy Flood, Sierra Loutraris, Jessica Peoples, Dorothy Speers, and Victoria Wheatley. Jessica and Sierra were the two swing shooters, each firing upon two of the eight Rattle Battle targets.

Shelby Falk is the one member of the New Jersey Garden State Gunners Junior Team that does not live in New Jersey. Falk, from Pennsylvania, joined the team since it is closer to her residence than the Pennsylvania-based junior High Power teams.

Amy Flood started shooting pistol at age 13 before starting smallbore after she found herself connecting more to rifle than to pistol. She still desired something different, finding her niche in 2015. Amy said of High Power service rifle, “I couldn’t have asked for something better, I love it.”

Dorothy Speers is aging out of the junior program this year, so this was her first and last chance to shoot on an all-girls junior team. Dorothy thought it was fun having an all-girls team but did not think that it warranted any extra publicity, saying, “If we start making a giant big deal out of it, it is almost like going backwards because we aren’t looking to be put on a pedestal for being girls with guns.”

Sierra Loutraris has been shooting High Power on the Garden State Gunners team for about two years. She noted that she has always casually gone to the range with her dad but had never shot High Power until she joined the team. Sierra thought it was a great idea as she “just wanted to be a part of something that could show other girls that you can do anything you want as long as you just go for it.” Though the newest girl on the team, Sierra has earned her spot as one of the top shooters on the Garden State Gunners.

Camp Perry Rattle Battle NTIT infantry team match
In the Rattle Battle, teams move as a group through multiple yardages (USAMU photo).

Jessica Peoples has been shooting High Power since March 2016, and after a “lot of time and a lot of effort,” has earned her Master classification. She was most surprised that an all-girls team had not been created sooner in other states which boast more junior shooter. Though she prefers a co-ed team, with “all personalities merging,” Jessica acknowledged that the “dynamic [was] different…we were significantly more organized, and the guys were a little more ‘tactical’ in their methods.”

Camp Perry Rattle Battle NJ New Jersey Girls female National Infantry Team match

Dorothy Speers noted that Coach Bachmann “deserves credit for a lot of things. He works really, really hard for us. I think it’s been a dream of his to have an all-girls team. [Bachmann is a] really big supporter of juniors shooting and a really big supporter of females shooting. Having an all-girls junior team has been a milestone for him, to put that together.”

Camp Perry Gunners Girls photos courtesy Steven Falk.