It was a dismal Saturday in Columbia. With rain, combined with just-above-freezing temperatures, it was the sort of day that causes a lot of people to dread the thought of stepping out into the elements.
However, at Cedar Creek Rod and Gun Club shouts of “Pull!”, followed by the loud cough of a twelve-gauge shotgun could be heard repeatedly throughout the afternoon. Members of the MU recreational shooting club were out braving nasty conditions and frozen hands for the sport that they love.
It is this kind dedication that has had the club ranked third nationally overall from 2005 through 2007 in the Association of College Unions International Clay Target Championships.
“We practice rain or shine,” said Matt Kinamore, president of the shooting club. “We even compete in the ice and snow,” he said, refering to last year’s ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio during a freak snowstorm in April.
The ACUI overall champion team is determined by combining the total targets hit in five events. The events are international and American trap, international and American skeet, and five-stand. Last year, the team hit 1,502 of the 1600 targets possible. Lindenwood University was the overall championship team with a score of 1,513, with runner up Texas A&M scoring 1,505.
MU has had shooting clubs in the past, but the current club team was established in the fall of 2003. Since then, the team has grown to around twenty members with fifteen competing regularly. The team is open to recreational shooters and is quite laid-back.
“Being around the team is just like being back home,” said Zach Ballman, a junior at Francis Howell High School who was in Columbia to meet the team. He is planning on coming to Mizzou in the fall of 2009.
Kinamore said shooting is mainly about having fun, which is good for attracting the new members that the team needs.
“This is sort of a transition year for us,” Kinamore said. Some of the team’s top shooters graduated in 2007, like Haley Dunn, the 2007 Women’s individual champion at the ACUI Clay Target Championships, and Travis Dye, who came in third individually overall at the same event. However, the team has added two sophmore transfer students from Lindenwood to its, roster and Kinamore is hoping for another top-five performance when the team returns to the Championships again this April.