At the University of Wyoming and many other colleges across the country the most popular sport on campus is football. Of course, not everyone can play for a division one football team. However, everyone does have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of club sporting teams. At Wyoming one of the biggest and most competitive teams is the shotgun team.
The time commitment for the team is significantly less than the one demanded of traditional sports student athletes. Meeting for non-mandatory practices twice a week at the Laramie Trap Club. With meets occurring anywhere from once a month to once every other month the team is more about having fun than anything else.
The team is described as being “For people of all skill levels. You can join the team just to improve on your shooting, being a part of the club does not mean you have to compete.” Said senior and secretary Keegan Ferris.
The team is broken down into three levels of skill to give everyone with the desire a chance to compete. The highest is the gold division it is followed by the brown division and then the white division. Those at lower two levels pay for their own ammunition as well as travel expenses. With so many gun owners and avid hunters in the Laramie area the team should be bursting at the seams with people trying to join.
Lack of Student Enthusiasm
This is far from the case. Since the time he joined the club freshman year Ferris points out that club membership is declining. Why, despite the general enthusiasm surrounding hunting and guns in Laramie is the club not more popular?
“The club does little to nothing to promote itself. I did not find out about the club through a table in the union, the only way I was aware it existed was through word of mouth.” Current freshman club member Connor Auble pointed out.
Another reason may be that the club was quite large in recent years. With as many as 35 full time members over the course of Ferris’s four years.
Things the club does do to promote itself as well as raise funds include a well-attended raffle in both the fall and spring semesters. This helps to pay for the cost of ammunition as well as travel for the shooters competing on the “gold division” section of the team.
The travel is much further than one might expect. The team competes across the country against schools from Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona. The team was recently able to start using university vehicles instead of having to drive their own cars to travel to events. For the further events such as Texas, they fly out of DIA in Denver.
The club does not offer the same draw for spectators that club teams like the men’s hockey team do. In fact, the shotgun team only has one meet in the state of Wyoming a year and it is in Cheyenne. None of the interviewees describe shooting as a spectator sport.
“It’s just great to be around like-minded individuals who share a love for the sport. I think it’s all about getting outside with a bunch of your buddies and breathing in the fresh air to take the monotony out of everyday life.” Said Auble. If that means lack of student support the team is less then bothered.
Keeping Students Informed
New members are the life blood of the organization. After practice was snowed out during the week of March fourth current team members became antsy.
“Since this is my first semester with the team, I am really not sure how things work yet and I was counting on this practice to get me in the loop.” Said Wyoming native and Sophomore rookie Connor Ericksen.
This presents another potential issue, the lack of literature relating to the team. While the teams site does provide some information, without digging into social media it is tough to get an idea of what the team is all about.
Atop that, the teams Facebook page is slightly out of date. They have not posted since mid-November. Some members like Connor Ericksen do not see this as a problem.
“Honestly, who is still using Facebook these days anyway? We should consider a larger presence on Instagram if social media is going to be a focus.” Said Ericksen.
Moving forward if the club hopes to keep membership up and students involved all of the team members input will have to be considered. The current team will be practicing the remainder of the month in preparation for the national tournament finals starting on March 25th and ending on March 30th.