The Missouri shotgun shooting club team was on the mark at the Intercollegiate Clay Target Championships on April 20-24 in San Antonio, Texas.
Missouri finished third out of 30 schools, and had four individual champions.
Travis Dye won the American Skeet Competition, Lindsey Hollin earned the Ladies Combined International Events title, Tyler Schwab won the Men’s Combined American Events competition, and Brian Thompson won the American Trap Event.
Lindenwood University in St. Charles won the team title, and Texas A&M finished second. Both schools give full scholarships to their shooters.
As participants in a club sport, Missouri’s shooters do not receive scholarships, but they do get some money from the Student Organization Allocation Committee, which provides money for all club sports at MU.
The team still relies on fundraisers and private donors, though.
Missouri hosted a shoot in October that brought more than 100 student shooters. Missouri also has gun raffles and has received donations from parents and from Ralph and Mary Ann Gates, who own Cedar Creek Rod and Gun Club, where the team practices.
It still hasn’t paid for everything. Team member Deke Alkire said about 75 percent of the money comes from the shooters’ own pockets.
The entry fee for the tournament in San Antonio was $190 and competitors also paid for hotel rooms and travel. It was the same for five other tournaments that took the team to places like Colorado State and Northwest Kentucky University. Shooters also must pay for their guns and rounds.
They say it is worth it, though, because they love what they do.
“Everyone is dedicated to the team and the sport,” Alkire said. “Plus, we have made some good friends that share the same passion.”
That passion is rising throughout the state. Many high schools have begun shooting programs through the National Future Farmers of America, and 4-H programs, which help to connect public school life with the rural youth community, have helped youths develop the skill of shooting at a younger age.
Tyler Schwab, president of the Missouri club, said he thinks this could elevate the sport and get his team more members, which he says it needs.
“Students are developing a talent that may go unnoticed to the public since it is not baseball, basketball or football,” he said. “So when these kids go to universities, they may already have the talent to shoot with the school and won’t have to be taught.”