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Mar. 23—The University of Jamestown's shooting sports team has taken a big step in the last year.
"Our team in the past has been more club-oriented where we didn't travel and just shot for fun," first-year head coach John Mazur said. "This is the first year that we've been competitive. We got more interest in the sport and it's growing fast so we thought that it was time to take the team to the next level and start competing at that national level with other schools."
UJ will be sending the team of nine sharp-shooters to the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Collegiate Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas. The Jimmies will leave campus on Wednesday and the competition will run Thursday through Sunday. The Jimmies will be competing in four shooting disciplines: trap, skeet, sporting clays and super sporting clays.
"The motivation is high, the bond is there," Mazur said. "It's not just an individual thing where they go out and shoot at the range and see who at the school does better.
"It's made the team a lot more viable and I think the future of it is a lot more promising now that we started doing that."
The team of nine athletes has been in existence for less than five years and is currently being led by senior Christain Koefoed. Mazur just signed on to help develop the team at the beginning of the school year. Besides Koefoed, an Ashby, Minnesota native, there are six midwest natives on the roster, five of which call North Dakota home.
It seems appropriate as Mazur said trap shooting is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing sports across the nation.
"It's ever-growing," Mazur said. "In Minnesota, I think they have 30,000 high school shooters per year and here in North Dakota we're growing just as fast. Trapshooting is something that everybody can do essentially. It's not geared just towards that athletic type."
Unlike the Jimmies' collection of sanctioned athletic teams, the shooting sports team is a co-ed program. While it might not look like a traditional athletic team or contest, Mazur said shooting sports take just as much focus and dedication if one wants to be a master at the range.
"It's a disciplined sport. Once you learn the mechanics of shooting — proper stance, leads and things like that — the next level of development is your mindset," Mazur said. "If you miss that bird and start to think, 'how did I do that?' you start to get into your own head about your misses and you can really see it take ahold of you and you start missing more. It's a very mental game once you get the mechanics down."
Hopefully, the Jimmies' mental games and mechanics are locked and loaded come Thursday.
Over spring break Mazur and his squad traveled further south and practiced shooting in the warmer weather in order to prepare for the field of 500 shooters awaiting them in the Lone Star State.
It was a big jump from where the team was 365 days ago but Mazur said he is excited to see the team take a step forward in the level of competition.
"When I got here, the culture was to just go to the range and shoot a couple of rounds together or have a virtual tournament with another school," Mazur said. "Changing the culture has been good. The excitement of getting out there and having that feeling of a truly competitive team has gone a long way in the development of this program."