Coming off a weekend with its third highest total score of the school year, the Racer rifle team suits up Friday for its last home competition and must face nine other schools.
The upcoming match is the final regular season competition before heading to the OVC Championship in Jacksonville, Ala., on Feb 7. Head Coach Alan Lollar isn’t letting the idea of the championship distract the shooters.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Lollar said. “It’s still too soon and we need to focus on what is in front of us.”
Murray State hosts the Withrow Invitational at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range in Roy Stewart Stadium. There will be nine schools traveling to compete as well as junior teams from high schools across the nation.
The Withrow Invitiational will be Murray State’s most diverse competition of the year, hosting an exhibition of nine teams. Lollar said this will prove to be a good challenge for the team because of the distractions the shooters need to overcome.
The team’s previous competition might have been a struggle overall, but Lollar said the team shot its third highest aggregate score and was pleased with its performance.
“It was tough at JSU because they are a very good team and they are a legitimate top five material,” Lollar said. “People were putting pressure on themselves instead of doing what they are supposed to do”
Lollar said it’s about being consistent and showing you can shoot your best every time. Because the score appears as an average of only five shooters, the score could show as a loss but only be one point away from the opposing team.
“Consistency for us is doing things the same way every time no matter where you are no matter what range it is,” said Lollar. “If you do things the same way every time you make your adjustments then you have a chance to feel like you will perform at your best.”
With this being the last competition before the OVC Championships, Lollar said they are going to stick to focusing on the task at hand.
Saturday the Racers traveled to Fort Benning, Ga., and tested their skill at Columbus State and leaving with a win of aggregate scores ranging from 4,671-4,553. Following the win they traveled to Jacksonville, Ala. to shoot against Jacksonville State that places them with a loss of an aggregate score of 4,649-4,677.
Lollar said the team struggled but not for a lack of effort. With the team shooting in both air rifle and smallbore, they must focus for long periods of time. In air rifle, the shooter must stand and shoot 60 shots all from the standing position. Smallbore requires the shooters to lie on the ground in the prone position, kneel on their knees and then stand, shooting 20 shots in each stance.
“It was a new range for us,” said Robert Broadstreet, freshman from Ozark, Mo. “This was the entire team’s first time ever going there. We shot some really good kneeling and some okay prone but we capped it off with standing as a team. The circumstances made it hard to see but overall we did well.”
Some shooters like Broadstreet say rifle is often an unseen sport on campus even though Murray State has a long national reputation for having a premier program.
“It’s completely different than what people think,” said Broadstreet. “It’s good to get people to come down and get people to know what we’re about. It’s good for people to see how precise it is and see that it’s not just shooting.”
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor