Program welcomes fans for open house

Freshman Tessa Howlad from Ozark, Mo., practices her shot during the rifle team’s open house. || Austin Ramsey/The News

Freshman Tessa Howlad from Ozark, Mo., practices her shot during the rifle team’s open house. || Austin Ramsey/The News

One of Murray State’s best kept secrets lies beneath Roy Stewart Stadium. Below the bleachers and turf is the Murray State rifle team’s shooting range.

The team held an open house Saturday during Homecoming’s Tent City.

“We took this time to practice and people came in and watched,” said sophomore shooter Kelsey Emme. “Some team members were off the range explaining the sport and asking questions. It was definitely cool to see people interested.”

Many students don’t understand the success and prestige of the rifle team. The team always enjoys seeing new faces at rifle matches said assistant coach Ashley Rose.

“This weekend is mainly for people to come in and see the sport,” Rose said. “A lot of people don’t realize we are even down here. We’ve tried to publicize our open house so people can come in and see what we are doing and what we are capable of.”

The rifle facility includes a shooting range, spectator’s area, offices for coaches and a team locker room.

The range is divided into segments called lanes. Each lane in the range is called a “point.” The Murray State facility houses 16 points with 12 electronic targets.

“We have one of the best facilities in the nation,” Rose said. “Ole Miss has a better spectator area, but our range is right there with the shooters. We are able to see them a lot better. Ohio State has more points but they don’t have a spectator area. Usually there is a give or take with whatever range you have.”

Despite the small spectator area, the team always encourages fans to come to matches.

“It’s hard sometimes because its not an action sport,” Rose said. “It is kind of like going to a golf match; not many people go to golf to watch because it is not an action sport like basketball and football.”

However, the etiquette for rifle differs from golf. The shooters not only encourage fans to come and watch, but also hope to hear fans cheering for the team.

“There are no rules that specify spectators have to be quiet,” Rose said. “Shooters in general, once they put their in their headphones, zone in. I wouldn’t say they particularly care (about noise) one way or another.”

A typical rifle match lasts around four to five hours, with two hours for smallbore. After a brief change-over period the shooters have one hour and forty-five minutes for air-rifle.

The smallbore is a .22 rifle and the air-rifle is exactly as it sounds an-air rifle. The distance for smallbore is 50 feet.

The smallbore is further broken down into three shooting positions. The shooters have two hours to shoot 60 shots. 20 shots must be shot standing, 20 shots must be shot “prone” or lying down, and the remaining 20 shots must be shot kneeling.

The air rifle is powered by compressed air – much like a scuba tank. During air rifle, all shots are done while standing, and shooters typically shoot “sighters,” or warm up shots. Sighters also allow the shooter to see where they are hitting the target. Shots are monitored on screens directly in front of the shooter and there is a large television screen that is situated in front of the spectators.

Scoring is broken down into individual scores and team scores. The rifle team squads five shooters and they take the top four shooters’ scores and adds them up to average an overall team score.

This weekend the Racers will look to boost those cumulative scores, traveling to the University of Kentucky in a match against UK and the Army Marksmanship Unit.