In March 2016, the 20-member team competed against 700 shooters from college teams across the country at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas. The team shot in the disciplines of trap, sporting clays and skeet. Two Connors State College (CSC) shooters tied for third place and went to a shoot off.
“That was a big deal for our team,” Coach Brandon Miller says. “Ninety-five percent of the teams we compete against are from four-year universities, and it’s a big advantage to have a student on a team for four years instead of two. Even so, our team demonstrated they could be competitive with the best of them.”
For the most recent season, the team traveled 8,000 miles and shot more than 17,000 competitive rounds.
In addition to a talented team, CSC boasts a first-class shooting facility. The Dr. Stuart Woods Shooting Sports Complex and Wetlands at the Gary Harding Research Ranch gives the team an edge, Coach Miller says.
“Not only does the facility allow the team to be better prepared for competition, but also the college is able to host regional tournaments for FFA members,” Miller says. “The complex is a great recruiting tool, with exciting expansions in the works for the future.”
The future looks bright for the program, he adds.
“This sport is going to continue to grow across the country,” Miller says. “We have excellent support from the school and community. There is a growing national interest in shooting sports as a leisure sport rather than just hunting.”
Miller says the sport benefits students by teaching discipline, perseverance and commitment.
“This is a sport where missing one or two targets can make a huge difference in competition,” Miller says. “It’s not about being able to shoot 25 out of 25 once, it’s about doing that consistently. That takes practice and dedication.”
Miller has high praise for the students who participate in the program. He says the primary goal shared by the program and college is for students to graduate.
“Shooting is secondary to earning that degree and moving on,” he says.
He notes that he is most proud of two awards the program won in 2016 in the classroom. The CSC agriculture department for the first time established attendance and GPA awards to present to one of its program areas. The shooting team won both based on their cumulative attendance records and grades.
“It was really neat to be able to place our name on both of these awards in the first year,” Miller says. “That’s a testament to the quality of students we have on our team.”