Shooting for a Championship - The OSU Rifle Team

by Larry S. Moore

There is a strong tradition of excellence at The Ohio State University. The dedication, competitive spirit and success of the OSU NCAA rifle team exemplifies all that is OSU. The team kicked off the season with a luncheon and a special match pitting alumni against the current team. This was the warm up before launching into the highly competitive NCAA season. It's a long season that runs through March 2012. The conclusion of the season will be very special as OSU will be the host facility for the NCAA rifle championships. The school will also be hosting the 2013 NCAA championships.

The OSU Rifle Team
Freshman Lauren Alman prepares her equipment prior to the match against the rifle team alumni
at the Lt. Hugh W. Wylie range in Converse Hall. Alman, from Fairfax, Virginia, is a member of
the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the NRA and USA Shooting Team. She previously finished
14th out of 90 shooters in smallbore rifle at 2009 Junior Olympic National Championship. She
recently placed fifth in air rifle with a 583 against Kentucky and Murray State.

Team coach Pat Cherry noted, "2001 was the last time OSU hosted the NCAA rifle championships. Since that time the introduction of electronic targets and scoring has become widely used and is the standard for the NCAA championships. OSU is blessed to have the support of key donors who made very generous donations to renovate our range facilities."

Coach Cherry, who has coached the Buckeye Rifle Team since 1988, is a recognized leader in marksmanship training and a whole lot more. His interest in competitive rifle shooting dates to his service in the US Army. He was a member of the Fulda Germany Rod and Gun Club and the competitive rifle team of the Aviation Co., 14th Cavalry, 7th Army. He has coached the Pickaway County Junior Rifle Club from 1972 until 1988. Coach Cherry served as president of The Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association from 1984-86 and as director of junior shooting programs from 1981-88. He has been a member of the National Rifle Association Shooting Coach Development Staff and a NRA Training Counselor. Coach Cherry has been recognized for his work on environmental projects focusing on water quality. He received the Water Conservationist of the Year Award from the League of Ohio Sportsmen and the Ohio Wildlife Federation. He also has been recognized by the Ohio House of Representatives for work in water conservation.

Mike Penner, OSU facilities management, has a lot of work to get ready for the season and hosting the championships. He adds, "Representatives from the NCAA visited OSU in October for their review of the facilities. They will look closely at what is needed for the championships. We want to host as many championships on campus as possible. We want our athletes competing in the finest possible facilities and at home as much as possible."

In 1875 the Ohio State University shooting facilities were at what is now the Ohio State Fair Grounds. The team currently shoots at the Lt. Hugh W. Wylie range in Converse Hall. The range was dedicated in 1966 in honor of Lt. Wylie from Circleville, Oh. He was a graduate of OSU and served with the 82nd Airborne Division during WWII. On Sept. 17, 1944, Lt. Wylie was killed in Holland during Operation Market-Garden, the battle that inspired the book and movie, A Bridge Too Far. The Lt. Hugh W. Wylie Range is a 20 point range set for 50 foot and 10 meter shooting for both precision air guns and .22 caliber small bore rifles.

The NCAA season is long and challenging. Many teams on the schedule are coming off strong seasons and setting NCAA or school records. The 2011 – 2012 team presents a strong cadre of shooters and should have a great shot at bringing an NCAA championship to OSU. They come from across the United States and from all walks of life. They have converged on Columbus to win a championship and get their degrees. A look at the individuals, their background, shooting accomplishments and majors they have chosen tells a lot about the quality of these athletes.

It is no surprise that these young shooters are already leaders and were winners in high school. Their interests are varied from marching band, choir, Frisbee teams, Army ROTC, wakeboarding, National Honor Society, Tae Kwon Do, hunting, fishing and riding all-terrain vehicles in the mud. Many plan on a career in some field of engineering with invention and entrepreneurship often mentioned. Check out the team at: http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/c-rifle/osu-c-rifle-body.html

I had the pleasure of shooting alumni Jim Fitz's precision air rifle on the range. The distance for the off-hand air rifle completion is 10 meters (33 feet). The target is very small and the bull's-eye appears minute. While I am accustomed to shooting somewhat regularly, the tolerances for competing at the NCAA level is far greater than my capabilities. Sports are often referred to as a "game of inches." Rifle competition is a precision sport that is counted in thousandths of an inch. Special clothing, shoes and shooting apparel is required. The target rifles are built especially for precision and set to fit each shooter. At this level of competition and skill the rifle match is as much a science at it is a sport. Best of luck to our OSU Buckeye Rifle Team!

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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