UW’s Shotgun Team travels to Texas for the ACUI Nationals competition
San Antonio, Texas – Bursting clay pigeon targets and burning gunpowder are not uncommon sights for members of the University of Wyoming’s Shotgun Sports team.
Members of the UW Shotgun Sports team have a dedication to the sport of shooting year-round and have been participating in collegiate competitions since last September to prepare themselves for the big finale of collegiate shotgun competitions – Nationals.
“Nationals is the Super Bowl of collegiate shooting sports,” says Scottie Melton, vice president of the UW Shotgun Sports team.
The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) hosts Nationals, and this year will be the 46th year the Collegiate Clay Target Championships have been held.
The competition event will be held at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas from March 25-30. The UW shooting team will be competing against 65 other collegiate schools across the nation.
Events competitors will partake in are American Trap, American Skeet, Five-Stand, Sporting Clays, International Skeet and International Wobble Trap.
“Attending Nationals means a lot to me. It shows what I’m capable of and how I rank in standings nationally,” says UW Shotgun Sports team President Tanner Thorfinnson. “It’s also very prideful to be able to represent the university in such a big way.”
The UW team is bringing 15 members to Nationals, and the members competing were chosen on the top 15 shooting percentages of the team. These students also must be in good academic standing with the university to be able to attend.
“We check grades after final grades have come out in December of fall semester to determine the members that go to Nationals,” explains Thorfinnson.
Funding for the UW team to travel and compete at Nationals came from a grant from the Wyoming Friends of the NRA.
The UW team has competed in a number of collegiate level events prior to Nationals, including events in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and additional practice in Kerrville, Texas.
Shotgun Sports member Russell Davidson won the sporting clays event at Colorado State University’s Ramvitational shoot in October 2013, and he also won the sporting clays event at the ACUI Upper Midwest Conference Championships in November 2013.
“For me, in particular, it means a lot to go to Nationals because it’s another avenue that I can go down,” comments Davidson. “Being in pharmacy school, it’s nice to get outside and meet other shooters from different schools and representing the university is always something not everybody gets to do.”
“It’s a privilege to come out to Nationals and have UW’s name on our back,” adds Davidson.
Thorfinnson received Men’s High Overall All (HOA) award at Oklahoma State University’s Cowboy Shootout competition and won the Men’s Skeet and Five-Stand events at CSU’s Ramvitational.
Melton placed fourth overall at Mizzou’s Tiger Open in early March.
The team spent March 23-24 at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center in Kerrville, Texas to have additional practice, particularly more practice with the international events that will be part of the events at Nationals.
“The complex in Kerrville has hosted selections for the Olympic shooting team,” describes Davidson. “They are very well equipped to throw all sorts of targets in all events.”
International events differ from the American events in that the targets are thrown at a faster speed, and the shooter must have their gun held just above their waist before they call for a target in International Skeet.
There can also be a delay in the target being thrown in International Skeet.
In International Wobble Trap, the targets are thrown at more severe angles than in American Trap, and the shooter is allowed to shoot two shells, if need be, per target thrown.
“Kerrville is a get-away place for all of us where we can go shoot when we want, and there’s no pressure to be able to move more lead down range without the pressure of a competition,” describes Melton.
Melton adds, “It eliminates the school factor and allows us to work out the kinks, rather than just going to practice every week and shooting a full round.”
Ready for Nationals
“Going to Nationals for me shows what I can do on the field and shares that there is a lot more to shotgun sports than a whole bunch of people with guns getting together and burning through a lot of shells,” comments Melton. “It shows shooting competitively has a purpose and that everything we do goes back to the team.”
“When I look at teaching other kids and the new members of the team how to shoot, I hope that maybe I can have an influence on them. It’s awesome to me to be able to play a key role in getting other people started,” adds Melton.
All of the UW shooting members are feeling prepared to go to Nationals, and Melton adds, “We are as ready as we can be.”