The Washington Post is reporting that shooting sports teams are seeing a surge on a diverse range of campuses across the country, and have become so popular that some are forced to turn away interested students.
From the article:
Teams are thriving at a diverse range of schools: Yale, Harvard, the University of Maryland, George Mason University, and even smaller schools such as Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Connors State College in Oklahoma.
“We literally have way more students interested than we can handle,” said Steve Goldstein, one of MIT’s pistol coaches.
According to the article, some students also report that their perceptions about firearms are changing.
“I had a poor view, a more negative view of people who like guns than I do now,” said Hope Lutwak, a freshman on MIT’s pistol team. “I didn’t understand why people enjoyed it. I just thought it was very violent.”
After recounting how groups including the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the MidwayUSA Foundation and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have worked to organize and fund the competition, the article notes that the growth has been phenomenal.
The upcoming collegiate clay target championships — George Mason has won 11 titles, including in 2013 — has swelled from a few hundred shooters in 2010 to more than 700 this year.
Though industry groups distribute booklets to students counseling them on how to start programs and deal with reluctant administrators or communities — tips: write letters to the editor in the school paper and sponsor bake sales — officials say the teams have not generated as much pushback as they expected. Shooting is even publicized as a recruiting and teaching tool.
The Post reports that MIT offers shooting classes that fill up in mere minutes, and that the school’s “brainiacs” have even taken to using 3D printers to fashion replacement parts for their firearms.
Many of the students interviewed talked about the relaxing aspects of target shooting as a sport, saying it’s one tranquil moment in long days filled with complicated problem sets, lab meetings and lectures, not to mention pressure from their parents.
And of course there are the lessons learned. MIT competitor Lydia Andreyevna Krasilnikova says that shooting has taught her many metaphors to live by, including: “Focus on the shot you’re lining up now, not the one you just took, not the ones you’ll take in the future.”
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.