GVSU shooting club competes at Junior Olympic Qualifier

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Shooting Club
Members of the GVSU Shooting Club, pictured above, participate in the Great Lakes Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016.

GVSU Shooting Club

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Shooting Club Members of the GVSU Shooting Club, pictured above, participate in the Great Lakes Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016.

Brady McAtamney

Just about every Grand Valley State student knows about the Laker football team.

One would be hard-pressed to find a GVSU scholar who had no knowledge of the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

But how many Lakers know about their school’s very own shooting club?

The GVSU coed club shooting team is a small but devoted group of individuals that meet for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays to hone their skills on the firing range and in open fields.

While some of the shooters on the club have long been into the sport, others are brand new to firing off rifles, like freshman Joseph Lentine.

“Joining Grand Valley fall semester was my first experience with any firearm. I had no prior experience,” Lentine said. “I guess for me, moving to college is about trying new experiences. The sport is always something that I’ve been interested in and I found that for me it was personally relaxing. Focusing on your breathing, keeping still, focusing on your body to get the shot that you’d like. It was relaxing and something that I’d never tried before.”

One of the aspects that the club prides itself on is that it will accept anybody into their club as long as they are a student at GVSU. Whether someone is male or female, a freshman or a senior and somebody with no experience or somebody with all the experience in the world, the club welcomes them with open arms.

“I think it’s important to realize that we’re accepting members all year long. The more the better,” said head coach Cameron Zwart. “I want to make sure we get everybody we can. We include everyone, we don’t cut anyone. People don’t have to strive for all the remarks. If someone wants to come down twice a week to shoot that’s fine, if they want to do it much less that’s good to. If they want the opportunity it’s there.”

Zwart, who is in his second year as head coach of the club, has already revitalized the program and has even brought on his own assistant coach: Gerry Cooke, the founding member of the club from 1995.

With new staff comes new challenges, and Zwart has already brought the Laker shooters into the most events—17— that the club has been to in a season and there is still a whole semester left to go.

One of these events was the Junior Olympic Qualifier in Bay City, Michigan Sunday, Dec. 11.

While only three Lakers competed in the event, they represented Allendale well despite none of them reaching the qualifying mark.

Lentine shot a 459 out of 600 possible points in smallbore competition, good for seventh place. He also shot a personal best 501 in air rifle which landed him in 10th place. Each of these marks were tops out of the three Laker participants.

Freshman Alexander Straith shot a personal best of 455 in smallbore, finishing right behind his teammate in eighth place, as well as 13th overall in air rifle with 472.

Lastly, sophomore Sydney Selvig shot two personal bests with a 403 in smallbore (11th place) and 469 in air rifle (14th place).

“It was a fun competition. It was a few hours of a drive, but overall the competition was worth it,” Straith said. “For a shooting event there were a decent amount of people there. The competition was fun, every event I’ve been to has seen an improvement and that was the next one in my path.”

In addition to an already historic season for the club, the Laker shooters have a big event ahead of them in the coming weeks when they will host the inaugural Peninsula Invitational between GVSU and Michigan Tech.

The event will be live-streamed online—which is extremely uncommon for a shooting match—and a watch party will be hosted at Schmoz Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids as a fundraiser.

In addition to the big event, Zwart anticipates that as many as seven Laker shooters may qualify for the National Rifle Association’s Intercollegiate Club Rifle Championship, which would be a major uptick from the two they saw qualify last season.

Qualifiers take place in February, and overall there are another ten events that the Lakers will load their magazines for.

Anyone interested in participating with the club can simply attend one of the weekly meeting at the Grand Rapids Rifle & Pistol Club on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., or Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.