Liberty University shooting sports program rises in national ranks
Liberty University’s men’s and women’s shooting sports program started just two years ago, but has quickly established itself as a lead contender on the national scene.
Practicing on the university’s new rifle, pistol, and shotgun shooting ranges and sporting clays fields at the Liberty Mountain Gun Club, located three miles from campus, the Flames and Lady Flames have risen up the collegiate ranks to claim individual titles and top-five regional and national team showings.
Liberty moved up two classifications for that event, from Division 2 — where it had placed third out of 14 teams as a first-year program last spring — to Division 4, where it competed against some of the most well-established collegiate programs in the nation.
"You always shoot for the biggest prize," Head Coach Dave Hartman said. “It was a great experience and our kids did a phenomenal job. I have really good shooters, and they’re eager to go show the world what they can do.”
The Flames' first-year rifle team, coached by Marlene and Kevin Gray, also had an individual national champion, Mitchell Feaga, at the March 22-23 NRA Intercollegiate Club Rifle Championships at Fort Benning, Ga. Feaga went on to place ninth out of 61 Small Bore competitors at the April 6-12 USA Rifle/Pistol National Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs.
On March 9-10, Liberty's first-year Action Team, coached by Michael Lowe, earned a silver medal at the Scholastic Action Shooting Program Collegiate National Championships in Talladega, Ala.
"We are enjoying great successes and are getting done early what we had only dreamed about as a first-year program a year ago," Hartman said. “I had some long-term plans, some goals that we have set that were three, four, five years out, and believe it or not, we’ve actually started to establish some of those goals this year.”
“We’re just trying to do our best, not just in shooting, but to honor God in that,” said senior shotgun team co-captain Josh Lancaster. “We want to really show people what Liberty’s all about, what God’s all about, while we are there.”
The program’s upward trajectory parallels the continued expansion of its shooting sports complex. A lodge currently under construction behind the shotgun range is scheduled to open this summer.
The building will feature a 3,200-square-foot first floor that includes a great room with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace, team room, staff offices, and a pro shop area to purchase ammunition and accessories. The full basement will be equipped with vaults for storing firearms and ammunition and a space to house golf carts that will be used on the trails around the complex.