Established last year, the SDState Shooting Sports Team is the first of its kind at South Dakota State and still has some “hoops to jump through.”
The biggest hurdle, club vice president Jason Dickinson said, is making sure everyone is safety certified.
Another difficulty is dealing with the taboo of having a club that revolves around shooting.
Some people think “if there’s a firearm involved it’s not going to be safe, but, honestly, we’re safer because we know how to act around firearms, we know what’s going on and then it helps educate everyone else,” said Naomi England, a founding club member.
Dickinson agreed, saying he believes everyone should know how to handle a weapon. The controversy is one of the reasons he started shooting as a sport in high school.
“Since then I’ve had a lot of fun with it, so I wanted to bring it to college so a lot of other kids could enjoy it as well,” Dickinson said.
Along with needing to be safety certified, it costs each member roughly $180 a semester to shoot once a week and about $200 to do it both Tuesday and Thursday. Those costs include shells and targets.
There are multiple disciplines of shooting the team shoots, England said. The main thing they shoot is trap and five-stand and shoot skeet depending on what is at the range or in reasonable driving distance.
Currently affiliated with the Wellness Center, club members hope it becomes a legitimate SDSU sports team. But it’s difficult with a lack of teams in the area and competitions being so far away.
“We’re working on it,” England said. “We have one competition we can do one hour away. Other than that it’s like three hours. So, we’re working on finding closer teams and people willing to go farther away to go shoot.”
Despite their aspirations of becoming a legitimate team, the club still knows how to relax and not take themselves too seriously.
“There are times we’re serious and then there are times we can just kick back and joke with people and have a bunch of fun out there,” England said.
England and Dickinson said the main draw of the sport is South Dakota’s large hunting culture and the memories made from it.
“A lot of the guys around here, they hunt all the time, and this is another thing they can go out and have fun with even if it’s not hunting season; shoot some clay birds instead of some real birds,” England said.
Freshman biology major and club member Mitch Lack has been part of shooting teams for about four years, ever since his sophomore year in high school.
“It’s just something I’ve always been involved in, I guess,” he said. “My dad has always gone hunting and stuff and I’ve always gone with him.”
The club meets at 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Brookings Gun Club, a few miles east of town on Highway 14.
Those interested in joining can visit the SDState Shooting Sports Facebook page.