Marksmanship Club Aims for National Tournament
Shooting team boasts Olympic connections
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 14:09
NDSU has a myriad of clubs and sports teams for almost any interest. Unknown to many people, however, is the Marksmanship Club. Despite its skilled members, Olympic coaches and success at competition, they have managed to stay under the radar.
“A lot more goes into shooting than a lot of people think,” Kyle Boster, club vice president, said.
Marksmanship is a competitive sport. Boster, who is also a rifle shooter and a sophomore majoring in Natural Resources Management, said that the club focuses on .22 rifle, .22 pistol, air rifle and air pistol competition.
The club attends competitions throughout the year with hopes to win their section in order to compete at nationals. For the past few years the club has indeed made it to nationals, which take place every spring.
The Marksmanship Club has earned a spot to compete at the Intercollegiate Rifle Club and Pistol Championships at Fort Benning, Ga. in the past several years. In order to compete at nationals, teams must earn a spot by achieving the highest score in their section.
At the 2013 competition in March, NDSU competed against big name schools like Pennsylvania State, Purdue and West Point Military Academy.
The rifle team placed fifth, having been beat out by the University of Michigan, Penn. State, Clemson and Purdue.
However, the pistol team took second place overall at their competition, just five points behind West Point Military Academy.
Boster said that all of the club’s shooters are returning from last year and that he hopes to return to nationals.
“We’re optimistic; all we can do is really bear down and make ourselves better,” he said.
There are more differences between the rifle and pistol competitions than just the type of gun the shooters use.
Alana Townsend, Marksmanship Club Treasurer, pistol shooter and a sophomore majoring in Agribusiness, explained that rifle shooters have to wear a uniform that includes special shoes with ankle supports. Pistol shooters, however, have no special uniform and cannot have shoes that go above the ankle.
She also described how rifle shooters hold their gun with two hands, while pistol shooters can only use one hand.
Townsend is more than just the club’s Treasurer and a pistol shooter. She has been shooting competitively since age 9 and has been shooting air pistol since she was 12.
At age 16 she was invited to join the U.S. Junior Olympic Development Team, and has been competing with that team around the world ever since.
Townsend said that the Development Team helps to build its shooters’ skills to hopefully compete at the Olympic level. As she is on the Development Team, Townsend has four assistant coaches nationwide—two that reside in Fargo—as well as the national coach in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Having two assistant coaches in Fargo was one reason why Townsend, a Montana native, came to NDSU. The other, she said, was because the university actually had a Marksmanship Club; she has been with them ever since the fall of her freshman year.
While she is focusing on school right now, Townsend said it is her goal to hopefully join the Olympic team by 2020.
Townsend’s affiliation with the Development Team is not the last of the club’s Olympic connections, however. Boster said that the club’s pistol coach, Eric Pueppke, is also an assistant coach to the U.S. Olympic team.
Peuppke has been coaching with the U.S. Olympic team since 2009, and is from Amenia, ND.
“Big Happy Family”
Both Boster and Townsend encourage anyone who is interested in shooting to attend a practice, just to try it out.
A background in handling firearms is not needed in order to pick up the sport of shooting, Townsend express