Aiming for perfection: GVSU rifle club stays busy with competitions

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

D'Angelo Starks

The Grand Valley State rifle club is the busiest club sport you didn’t know about. 

The Laker rifle club took on the Georgia Military College rifle team in a postal match that spanned from Saturday, Oct. 2, to Tuesday, Oct. 5. The postal match is unlike other sporting events: Instead of the teams traveling, each team shoots at their own home range, and they share scores via the internet. 

The Lakers had a dominant showing, winning both the smallbore rifle and air precision rifle competitions on the team side. The Lakers beat Georgia 2,054 to 1,459 in the smallbore rifle competition, with the highest possible score being 2,400. In the air rifle competition, the Lakers won 2,166 to 2,026, also out of 2,400. The Lakers won the event by an overall score of 735 points. 

On the individual side of the competition, the Lakers had the top five finishers in the smallbore rifle competition, including winner of the match Christian Yap, who scored a 525 out of 600. In the air rifle competition, it was much of the same as the Lakers finished with four out of the top five finishers in this competition. Christian Yap was the top finisher in the competition again, scoring a 558 out of 600, both scores setting personal bests. Rifle club head coach Cameron Zwart couldn’t be upset with his team’s overall performance. 

“I think as a team it went okay,” Zwart said. “It went very well for Christian Yap. He set a personal best. He’s really having a good year. Every time out he’s setting a new personal best in the smallbore rifle. We will be counting more on everyone else as the season goes on.” 

The club shooting season has one of the longest and most demanding schedules of all of the club sports at GVSU. Their indoor season lasts from August until April of the next year, and their outdoor season begins in May and goes through July. Last year, this team competed in 80 total matches, and this season, they are on track to compete in even more than that. 

“We’re a pretty busy outfit,” Zwart said. “I’d say in terms of our schedule, we are probably one of the more aggressive clubs in the country.”

Coach Zwart has lofty goals he thinks his team can live up to this season. 

“I’d like to be top three in the Western Intercollegiate Rifle Conference in both smallbore and air rifle,” Zwart said. “Then, I would like to be in the top five nationally in both of those disciplines when the season comes to an end. I think that those are obtainable if we continue to work hard.” 

The rifle club here at GVSU is unlike other club sports on campus. No matter who wants to try out for the team, coach Zwart refuses to cut anyone from the team. 

“We don’t limit membership to those with experience,” Zwart said. “I truly believe that if anyone can dedicate the time and attention it takes to learn the discipline of precision rifle shooting that anyone can be successful at it. What attracts me to the sport is the persistent pursuit of perfection. 

“The constant pursuit to try to be perfect, it’s not easily obtained, and the relentless pursuit of that is what intrigues me.” 

Yap, one of the many leaders of the team, understands the workload the rifle team requires but believes it set him up for future success.

“You have to make some tradeoffs with your social life if you want to practice,” Yap said. “You have to spend more time at practice when you would normally be hanging out with friends. It’s just time management really.”

The GVSU rifle club will continue shooting in competition Tuesday, Oct. 31, in Orion’s postal match.