Super Senior: Jack Baroffio

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 6:09 PM EDT
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NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a Sunday afternoon in Northfield and Jack Baroffio, with help from his wife Thelma, are getting ready for a group of kids to arrive.

“They’ll be shooting air rifles,” Baroffio explained. The rifle range, built especially for young people, is home to the Northfield Junior Rifles. This year’s team is all girls, ranging in age from 11 to 16.

“Ok, is everybody ready to go?” Baroffio said. “You may load, commence firing.” Hailey DeLary, the youngest of the group, cocks her rifle and shoots at a target.

“You notice how the kids are standing? They all have an arch in their backs,” Baroffio explained. Except for the sound of the air rifles, there’s complete silence and total concentration at the range.

Baroffio was on Northfield High School’s first rifle team and a coach for over four decades. “We’ve had a shooting program since 1947,” he said. Now 87, he’s seen the teams go from mostly boys to mostly girls. “A target tells a story,” Baroffio said. And that’s why he says it’s a female team. Simply put -- at this age -- he says the girls are more serious. “Oh yeah, right off quick. They concentrate better.”

At 16, Taylor Baroffio -- Jack’s great-granddaughter -- is the veteran of the team. There were three boys on the team. Taylor’s brother was one of them but he graduated from the program. “The other two, they stopped coming after a while. I guess they didn’t like losing,” Taylor said.

This is the last junior shooting team left in Vermont. There were 13 when Baroffio started in 1976. The team has to travel to New Hampshire to compete. The decline is part cultural -- guns have become a polarizing issue in the United States with the epidemic of school shootings.

But Baroffio’s son, Bruce, thinks there’s another reason -- video games. “Our problem -- and it’s the same problem that faces the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts or any of the organization like that -- is you can’t compete,” Bruce said. “All the kids nowadays, it’s this.”

Bruce helped build the range with his dad in the early ‘90s. “If your kids stick with this program, they’re going to need to three things in order to be successful. They’re going to need to learn to sit still, focus their concentration, and control their emotions,” Bruce said.

“When you lose your concentration, that’s when you start to wiggle. So, you really have to focus,” Taylor explained.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why do you do this?

Jack Baroffio: Because I like it. I’ve done it for so many years. It’s natural for me and I have a natural rapport with the kids.

With targets in hand, Baroffio is like a professor grading his students. “Hailey, that’s a good target. My goodness,” he exclaims.

A Super Senior who’s definitely at home on the range.

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