Rifle team receives NRA grant of two fully equipped air rifles
Liberty University’s rifle team recently received two Feinwerkbau 800X air rifles from a Friends of the NRA grant, valued at $6,130. Head Coach Marlene Gray says the donation of the rifles, one for left-handed and one for right-handed shooters, helps the program to meet the next phase of its goals.
“Liberty’s Club Sports rifle team offers college students the opportunity to participate in the shooting sports using smallbore and air rifle as the platform to teach basic shooting fundamentals, good sportsmanship through competition, and life skills such as responsibility, decision-making, and leadership,” said Gray, who finalized the co-ed team’s roster of eight student-athletes earlier this month. “Our long-term goals are to increase the opportunity to offer to college students with little rifle experience or those coming to college with borrowed equipment from their junior clubs to participate on the rifle team and develop the skill set to compete and learn life skills.”
Gray said the program has seen an increase in interest from high school student-athletes from American Legions’ youth rifle teams as well as Junior ROTC and 4-H shooting programs looking to attend Liberty who have used borrowed equipment from their junior clubs.
“The team wanted a rifle with the ability to fit the athlete, so they can learn proper marksmanship skills and proper shooting positions,” she said, noting that the Feinwerkbau 800X air rifle features an adjustable hand rest, buttplate, cheekpiece, and height riser mounts. “The Feinwerkbau 800 X would provide all the adjustably for our rifle athletes, (who have) modified other air rifles with additional accessories at an additional cost to the initial purchase.”
This season’s squad includes seven women and one man, junior Michael Donoho. Senior Katherine Gray and junior Kristen Gagne are the only other upperclassmen on the team. Sophomore Wyatt Campos, who was one of the top competitors on last season’s team, is taking the semester off to focus on his engineering studies.
Newcomers to the team include freshmen Claudia Weber, Payton Peppard, and Devin Peppard, as well as Courtney Horn, who joins returning sophomore Madeline Ashley.
“Our sport is unique because they compete co-ed,” Gray said. “They’re equal on the line.”
The team’s first scheduled in-person competition is a Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) 50-meter three-position smallbore target event set for Oct. 2 at the Lafayette Gun Club in Yorktown, Va.
The Flames and Lady Flames will also begin Western Intercollegiate Rifle Conference (WIRC) postal matches in October with three more set for November, December, and January before the in-person WIRC championships are scheduled for February.
“We’re going to do very well this year,” Gray said. “The new students have come with more competition experience and we’re in a better position at the beginning of the year than we have been in past seasons.”
After training in small bore shooting on the Liberty Mountain Gun Club range, the team will transition to indoor shooting at the nearby SafeSide Tactical commercial range on Mayflower Drive, with a new indoor air rifle range expected to be available even closer to campus by the end of October.
Video by Hayden Robertson/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant