While other Western students enjoyed their spring breaks on tropical beaches or family vacations, members of the Missouri Western Shotgun Club traveled to two shooting competitions in Lincoln, Nebraska and Gypsum, Kansas.
The weather was cold, rainy and miserable for both competitions, but that didn’t stop the team from successfully representing Missouri Western according to club president, Matt Scholz.
“Weather does impact performance… but I feel great about the performance of Missouri Western’s shooters. We don’t have that solid of a recruiting base, we don’t have a full time coach, and watching these members grow from where they started and shooting at the competitive levels they did allows me to look forward to the future,” Scholz said.
Unlike other schools Missouri Western competes against, Western is one of the few self-sponsored teams. Schools like Fort Hayes and Lindenwood are school-recognized athletic teams who receive scholarships, have full-time coaches, and have official recruitment of experienced shooters. Most of the costs from shotgun shells, practice and travel are also covered by the institutions.
Since MWSC is a club, not a recruited team, anyone of any skill level can join and learn the different shooting disciplines. Members can also leave without repercussions if necessary. This was part of the original mission set out by Scholz when he founded the club in 2013 and is something he hopes will continue once he has graduated.
First-year member, Byron Hahn, has benefitted greatly from the club’s open enrollment.
“I feel I have come a long way since I first started shooting sports. Having a great coach like Matt really helps because he has shot competitively for many years, which allows him to teach me, as well as others, on how to improve on each discipline we are shooting,” said Hahn.
While the MWSC may seem to have an institutional handicap compared to other schools, Western is not an obsolete team at competitions.
“Missouri Western continues to run with the middle of the pack, with some individuals sticking out as top 10 competitors, and even as a team reaching the top quarter,” Scholz said.
For example, in the Lincoln shoot, Freshman Taylor Houx tied for first place in the female trap shooting event.
Vice-president and founding member Zach Evans foresees top scores like Houx’s becoming more prevalent as the team continues to advance. He argues that this can only be done through increased practice and competitions, which can be expensive.
Scholz shares this similar opinion as Evans.
“I would like to get more funding and have the club start assisting with paying for practice for the future. Practice is what makes perfect, and if we can work these kinks out at practice instead of during the critical first rounds at a competition, we can get that foot in the door to stay a top quarter team, and maybe even begin winning some events,” Scholz said.
Overall, Scholz has already seen improvement and growth from every shooter and is excited to keep the club moving forward in skills and competitions.
The club’s next competition is April 16th at KCTA, Smithville Lake. Missouri Western also has a shooting range on west campus that is open to the public Thursday and Sunday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. if anyone is interested in learning firearm safety and shooting sports.