Collegiate Rifle Alive and Well

Collegiate Rifle Alive and Well
TCU's all-women rifle squad captured its second NCAA title in three years. NCAA photo

First off, congratulations to Texas Christian University, this year's NCAA rifle champions. The Horned Frogs battled back from a five-point deficit after the smallbore competition to fire an excellent air rifle tally and vault past defending champion University of Kentucky for its second in the past three years. You can read a recap of the championships here.

TCU's squad was paced by individual smallbore champion Sarah Scherer, who qualified for the final with a 589 and shot an excellent 99.6 in the 10-shot final to hold on for the win. I took the opportunity to view the shot-by-shot final live on NCAA's website, and it was quite exciting to watch the standings change with each shot. (I covered the smallbore final on Twitter, so if you're interested, follow me at @jscottrupp and you can go back and view all the Tweets from the final.)

I was a collegiate rifle shooter back in the late '70s and '80s, and I know it makes me an old fart to say so, but, man, things sure have changed—for the better. Instead of full-course smallbore three-position, competitors now shoot a half-course 3P and a 60-shot air rifle match. And, as mentioned, the championships have adopted the finals event in which the top eight shooters from the regular course of fire go head to head for an additional 10 shots to determine the winner. This approach is the same used in the Olympic Games and other international competitions and adds an element of excitement that had always been lacking in smallbore and air rifle.

Hats off to the NCAA to devote the resources to video the championships live and post it on their website obviously something we didn't have 30 years ago. And with the advent of social media, you can now follow your team, coach and/or favorite shooter and stay up to date throughout the season.

Another thing that's changed since my college days is the dominance of women shooters. Both squads I shot on (West Virginia University and Eastern Kentucky University) were co-ed, as were most of the teams back then, but the men tended to post higher scores than the women. The TCU championship squad? All women, and coached by Karen Monez, a great shooter in her own right. As I mentioned, Sarah Scherer was the individual smallbore champion; WVU's Petra Zublasing was the individual air rifle champion. Seven of the top 10 smallbore scores were turned in by women; six of the top 10 air rifle shooters were women.

The teams have changed, too. Decades ago, rifle teams were dropping like flies due to budget cuts (my squad at EKU was a victim in 1985), but now it seems number of universities fielding NCAA teams is actually growing. Old-line powerhouses such as WVU, UAF, Murray State and Army are still to be reckoned with, but these days they're joined by schools such as TCU, UK (which was a club team when I last shot in college), UTEP, Jacksonville State, Nevada-Reno, Ole Miss and more.

And that's just the NCAA side of the collegiate rifle coin. Starting today and running the rest of the week, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, GA, is hosting the first of its kind Army Strong Collegiate Shooting Championships. The event will draw top college and junior shooters from across the country and encompass four distinct championships, including the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship for those schools whose rifle teams are on the club level.

Back in my day (go ahead, kids, roll your eyes) collegiate club teams never had such an opportunity. It's just another example of why collegiate rifle's future looks bright.

Recommended for You


New 30-06 Springfield Elite Match Ammo from SIG SAUER

Rifleshooter Online Editors - April 03, 2019

SIG SAUER adds to its Elite Match ammo line with the 30-06 Springfield.


Marlin Model 1895-.444 Marlin

J. Scott Rupp

The Marlin Model 1895-.444 Marlin is a handy, powerful rifle capable of taking down elk,...


3 Great Takedown Survival Guns

David Fortier - March 19, 2015

When I decided to review three different rifles chambered in .22 LR and geared toward survival...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Review: Performance Center-Thompson/Center LRR

Alfredo Rico - April 09, 2019

Thompson/Center and S&W's Performance Center team up to build an entry-level long-range...


M&P15 SPORT II Rifle Available with CTS-103 Optic

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 23, 2019

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display...


Reloading Ammo – Why?

Craig Boddington - March 26, 2019

The handloading question: With large availability factory ammo on the market, why bother with...

See More Stories

More Industry


Scientists Patent Self-Guided Bullet

Dylan Polk - February 07, 2012

A team of scientists in New Mexico have invented the unthinkable: a bullet that doesn't


The Shooting Sports Future

Ben OBrien - January 03, 2011

With over 300,000 members, the 4H Shooting Sports program is serving up the next


Army Upgrades the M24

Rife Shooter Staff Report - January 13, 2011

The Army recently awarded Remington a contract for 3,600 new and improved M24 sniper

See More Industry

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.