Lewis County, Kentucky, is home to the Lewis County High School U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), led by Senior Army Instructor Kibbey Hilger. This JROTC program was started in 1987, and fifteen years later created their own rifle team. This rifle team, coached by Higler, has been competing heavily for the last four years and has been placing very well. During their recent competition at the Western Kentucky regional match, the team placed third overall.
The NRA Foundation, it’s Friends of NRA program, and the Lewis County High School Army JROTC have been connected for the last three years through NRA Foundation events and grants. The NRA Foundation grants have “rocketed our program to the next level of equipment,” according to Hilger. The JROTC program has been the recipient of more than $15,000 over the last 5 years, and when asked how Hilger heard about the grants, he replied, “I’ve known about them for a while, we just never took the time to apply. When I finally applied, a combined six hours on the computer got us $15,000!” These grants have helped the program attain more advanced equipment and materials, leading to the team being able to attend more competitions. The teammates have benefited from The NRA Foundation grants in numerous ways such as; better training, better equipment, better shooting, and even more opportunities for scholarships.
The NRA Foundation grants have allowed Lewis County to start hosting their own competitions which include dozens of counties in three states. Their recent match in February 2019 included 64 competitors from eight schools and is expected to expand in 2020, according to Higler. The support from the community was tremendous with over 200 spectators attending. The competition provided the perfect opportunity for the Lewis County Friends of NRA committee to share information about the Friends of NRA program, and offer raffle ticket sales which raised money that goes back to their community.
One could say Lewis County is economically challenged, but they have one of the largest Friends of NRA events in the state. With the assistance of Hilger’s JROTC program, the students assist the Friends of NRA banquet any way they need, but mainly by giving “more manpower’ to the committee. The JROTC students have helped with setting up the event, directed the parking of cars, assisted with auctions, and anything else that they have been asked to do.
The NRA Foundation grants have allowed Lewis County to start hosting their own competitions which include dozens of counties in three states.
Lewis County High School JROTC instructors strive to teach the students critical thinking and presentation skills, lifelong learning abilities, how to be good citizens with responsibility for their actions, and to treat others with respect. The program offers the opportunity for competition, a sense of belonging, physical training, and leadership skills. All of these skills and abilities allow for the JROTC program to be successful. The Lewis County High School Army JROTC has definitely made their presence known in the shooting sports community, and they intend to keep it that way with the continued help from The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA.