By Kassidy Groeper
Collegiate shotgun shooting is a rapidly growing program with more and more individuals wanting to pursue competing through a university and on its team. With this trend, college-aged shotgun shooters face what many other athletes in different sports face, and that is, choosing a school based on academics, how the campus feels and how compatible the coach and team are with a shooter’s needs. Here is my advice on how to approach becoming a collegiate competition shooter, and what to look for in the process.
Many people dream of competing for the top Division I school in the country, but many do not realize that while getting an offer from that school – even though it may be a huge accomplishment – it may not be the best decision for everyone. There are a multitude of factors that should come into play when deciding where you want to further your education, including the following: student body size, quality of education, professor-to-student ratio, size of campus, surrounding areas of campus and if the school offers your major.
For me, I achieved the goal of mine to be a part of the top Division I team and accepted a scholarship from Lindenwood University. I was blinded by Lindenwood’s prestigious shotgun accolades and team to consider any of these important factors. I was lucky in this aspect because I fell in love with the campus, the student body is small enough to recognize faces everywhere you go, yet big enough to blend into the crowd if you choose. I know all of my professors on a personal level and am able to ask them for help with classwork or even life advice. As far as Lindenwood’s surrounding areas, there is not much to do, but with the friends I have acquired, there is always something to do. Lindenwood does not have an Agricultural Business degree, which was my intended major, but luckily I found a passion for business and digital photography and haven’t looked back since.
Questions to ask of a collegiate shooting team
Before committing, ask about the size of the team, if scholarships are offered ask these questions:
- If those scholarships would cover a 5th year
- What the practice schedule looks like
- How big of a time commitment the team will be
- Would you be able to juggle a job with your team duties
Those questions should be easy for coaches to answer, but challenge yourself and the coaching staff by asking other, more difficult, questions as well:
- Find out if members of the team get burnt out easily
- How many of the team members travel to competitions and how do they get selected
- What disciplines of shotgun shooting are shot and by whom
- What the strengths and weaknesses of the team are
- Where firearms are stored and if you are responsible for paying for storage
- What percentage of freshman remain of the team all 4 years
- What the coaching style is like
Before committing, you need to find out who the team is behind the public mask that is put forth that makes the team look so picturesque. It is also good to know if professors are OK with missing classes for matches, both with the team and any individual matches you may attend.
As for questions to ask yourself before committing, ask if you can trust the coach and team, if you are willing to compete for the team or just for yourself or if you are just after a national title.
Before agreeing to be a part of a team for 4 years, consider all angles of joining the team, if what is being said is truthful, and if what is promised will be upheld.
Selecting the right college is stressful enough, let alone finding the right team. Take the time to make the right decision for yourself, and you alone. Nobody else is going to live your life, so take advantage of that. Make sure the choices you make are the ones you want to tell stories to the next generation about. Realize that there is so much more to life than competing for the nation’s top Division I school. The goal should not be to compete for the best of the best, it should be to have the best college experience possible, one that fits you and is not somebody else’s dream.
Kassidy has been on the Syren ProStaff for many years now and in her Junior year as a collegiate competition shooter at Lindenwood University. She competes in International Trap (aka Bunker Trap) and has attended several USA Shooting qualifying events with the goal to join the team and travel to international competitons. She’s also on the LU DECA team and has traveled with the team for conferences and has become a resident advisor this year. ~Lynne Green