Fort Hays State University Shooting Team prepares for upcoming season

Fort Hays State University shooting team's incoming freshmen have been honing their shooting skills under the direction of Dr. Duane Shepherd, associate professor of health and human performance and shooting team sponsor and coach.

Shepherd has worked with the some of the freshmen at various times during the summer as opportunities were presented.

"The freshmen are all very highly skilled and have competitive experience that will enable them to shoot at a college level," said Shepherd. "They have great character and will go far."

The incoming freshmen are Caleb Scholz, Crete, Neb. (68333), majoring in technology studies; Jerrod Lies, Minneola (67865), majoring in agricultural business; Cody Escritt, Pleasanton, Neb. (68866), majoring in technology studies; Erica Bonetti, Sacramento, Calif. (95827), fmajoring in agriculture (animal science); and Emily Steenbock, Wichita (67205), majoring in radiologic technology.

They aren't the only ones working to improve their skills this summer. "Some of us are also members of ATA, the Amateur Trapshooting Association," said Kilee Hutchison, Pratt (67124) senior.

This summer, some of the ATA members attended the Kansas state shoot. They took advantage of the opportunity to speak with high school students about what the FHSU shooting team has accomplished and what the benefits of attending FHSU are, said Hutchison.

The shooting team has been an FHSU student organization since 2005, when six incoming freshmen wanted to shoot at a collegiate level. The team's nine years of competition include two national championships, 2013 and 2014, and two runner-ups for national championships, 2011 and 2012.

The team's success goes beyond competition though. "My favorite part about the team is that it is like a big family," said Jeremy Denny, Fremont, Neb. (68025), junior. "We all get along and have similar interests."

"We live in the same area and have classes with one another. We run around together and on occasion we have a family dinner night," said Hutchison. "If you see one of us on the sidewalk, another is probably not far away."

A preliminary meeting will kick off this semester's practices the weekend of Aug. 16. Regular practices will begin the following week.

"On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students will practice at four venues based on the skillsthey need to improve upon," said Shepherd. "As a new requirement, they will have to keep a log of what they accomplish during each practice, so the instructors can later review this information."

The first shoot will be at Wichita State University from Sept. 6 to Sept. 7, and then one held every weekend through October. However, "the schedule is constantly evolving," said Shepherd.

"Sometimes we have to wait until certain dates are scheduled or we receive notice of them," he said.

After Thanksgiving, the team will begin selling tickets for a raffle that will be held in January 2015. The prize will be a collector's edition Browning A-Bolt 270 rifle made in honor of legendary shooting writer Jack O'Connor. Tickets will be $20 each, and the proceeds will help pay for competition entry fees.

The other returning competitors are listed by hometown.

BARTLEY, Neb. (69020): Tye Smith, senior majoring in agricultural business.
BURWELL, Neb. (68823): Austin Svoboda, sophomore majoring in technology studies.
KINGMAN (67086): Tyler Bock, senior majoring in agricultural business.
LAMAR, Colo. (81052): Zeb Harvey, junior majoring in finance (banking).
McLOUTH, Kan. (66054): Dylan Young, senior majoring in management.
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (69101): Josh Crankshaw, sophomore majoring in technology studies.
OGALLALA, Neb. (69153): Damian Giles, graduate student majoring in liberal studies.
TONGANOXIE (66086): Cody Martin, junior majoring in justice studies.

For more information, contact Shepherd at 785-628-4374 or

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