The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

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Many birds, one national champ: Shooting sports team wins national championship

The+shooting+sports+team+poses+with+their+Division+III+National+Championship+trophy+and+many+individual+awards+from+the+National+Championship+in+San+Antonio%2C+Texas.+
Dan Martin, shooting sports head coach
The shooting sports team poses with their Division III National Championship trophy and many individual awards from the National Championship in San Antonio, Texas.

The Simpson Shooting Sports team won the Division III Classic All-Around National Championship and various individual awards at the national tournament in San Antonio, Texas, which lasted from March 18-23.

They competed in three disciplines: trap, skeet and sporting clays and beat 60 other Division III schools. For overall team scores, they placed third in doubles trap, second in individual trap and second in skeet.

Out of the 1,500 possible birds, the team shot 1,389 of them.

Head coach Dan Martin, who has been at Simpson for six years, described why he thinks the team performed so well. “We all have the same goal. We want to be the best we can possibly be and have as much fun as possible.”

This mindset has paid off.

Senior Breydon Paxson was the individual trap champion for the third consecutive year and second in skeet. He also was the combined singles national champion for trap and skeet.

Freshman Taylor Busho and senior Riley Ericson both won their first national titles. Busho was the individual skeet national champion in the B class, and senior Riley Ericson was the individual Trap A class champion.

The three types of shooting the athletes competed in vary greatly. Trap involves five stations where machines throw birds away from the shooter. Each competitor shoots four rounds of 25 birds for a total possible score of 100.

Skeet has eight stations arranged in a half circle and two houses, which are machines that launch singles and pairs of birds across the fields. One of these houses shoots high to low and another low to high.

Sporting clays is like golf with a shotgun. The shooter travels to 12 stations and shoots four or five pairs of birds at each one.

To improve in all these disciplines, the team practiced three times a week and worked on a different style each day.

Martin tailored his coaching to each athlete based on which birds they were missing and made drills to help specifically with that.

“It’s all about figuring out how we can present the shooter, so they can see the bird as fast as they can and move in a manner that fits their body type,” Martin said.

Martin’s coaching techniques led Paxson to success.

For the first trap round, he shot a perfect 100 and then had a shootoff with 12 competitors, where he shot another perfect round, winning him the national title.

After he shot the winning bird, he felt thrilled.

“Turning around seeing my dad, my team, 200 other people watching, it made all the hard work worth it,” Paxson said.

While winning awards is fun, Paxson loves the community the team has built even more.

“We’re a big, giant family. Even when we’re not at practices, we’re hanging out at each other’s places or having poker nights,” he said.

Martin echoed these sentiments. He said he loves watching the team members grow both personally and competitively and values the family dynamic they have built. “Each memory doesn’t necessarily have to have a win behind it. There’s so many individual successes that have come through here.”

The team hopes to repeat this success next year. And since the team is composed of many freshmen, Martin is excited to see them grow and become even stronger.

He hopes to educate others about shooting sports to combat the negative connotations associated with the activity and place them in a more positive light.

“There’s this idea that shooting sports are really dangerous, but they’re the safest sport out there,” Martin said.

This is due to the extensive safety measures in place for practice. In addition to engaging the safeties, the guns are always open and have no ammo in them when they are not in use. Only one person has a loaded gun, and everyone else stands behind them.

Additionally, every team member is willing to call out anyone acting unsafe, whether it is on their team or someone else’s.

Martin wants the general public to understand firearms are just a tool used to compete in their sport.

He also encourages anyone interested in shooting sports to give it a try.

“Don’t be scared. Take someone who knows what they’re doing out with you and learn what it’s about,” Martin said.

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Maggie Fitzpatrick, Staff Reporter

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