Matt Grun­zweig shoots American trap for the Hillsdale shotgun team last season. (Amanda Klug | Courtesy)

One might wonder how the members of the Hillsdale College shotgun team have and maintain such big guns. The secret lies in the team’s intensive shooting prac­tices paired with a strict bi-weekly weightlifting routine geared toward main­taining physical wellness.

Last year, the team won the Nationals shooting com­pe­tition in the Division III cat­egory for the fifth con­sec­utive season. 

“Nationals is on par with NCAA,” according to junior Lucas Pier­accini.

This Sunday, the team has its first official com­pe­tition of the semester in Mason, Michigan. The team placed second in the event last year. Leading the charge are senior Emanuel Boyer, junior Matt Grun­zweig, and Pier­accini. Freshman Anthony Lamacchia and sophomore Barrett Moore will make their debut at the tour­nament in Mason. 

While the entire team of eight will set out and compete, only the five-man team will con­tribute to the team score. Assistant coach Jordan Hintz ‘18, a former shooter for Hillsdale, is eager to see just how good this year’s team is. 

 “I’m inter­ested in seeing how the team will develop,” Hinz said. “We have def­inite strengths and weak­nesses, so we’ve just got to keep working at them and see how good we will actually be.”

Boyer expects the com­pe­tition this weekend to be impressive. 

“They’ve got 500,000 more targets on you since they’ve been doing it for years more than you have,” he said. “The caliber is as good or better than col­le­giate events.”

The qual­i­fi­ca­tions for Division I-III are deter­mined by the size of the team, not nec­es­sarily the skill level.  Division I teams have 20 or more shooters, Division II has 10 to 20 shooters per team, and Division III teams have 10 or fewer.  

Con­sis­tently, Hillsdale’s Division III squad has con­quered Division I teams who have more shooters to rotate in and out of the strenuous tour­na­ments. 

By requiring incoming team members  to hit at least 95 out of 100 targets in skeet and trap, the Chargers’ shooting team can maintain its dom­i­nance in tour­na­ments. 

The two most common types of shooting styles are American trap and American skeet. Trap shooting has bunkers 15 meters in front of the baseline and fires disc targets at various angles away from the trap shooter, with 45 degrees being the most severe shot.  

Skeet shooting differs in that the targets are shot from ele­vated towers posi­tioned to the left and right of the shooter. Targets are shot from one side to the other and not away from the shooter.  Both events present unique chal­lenges and targets that shooters must rise to meet.

The team prides itself in its passion and ability for com­pet­itive shooting. Pier­accini said the team’s prowess reflects the school’s values. 

“People who know Hillsdale are gen­erally con­ser­v­ative and pro-second amendment,” Pier­accini said. “Having a strong shotgun team shows we do support the second amendment.  The team shows that guns aren’t just killing machines but that they are part of a sport with a purpose.” 

-S. Nathaniel Grime con­tributed to this report.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    I’ve shot both Trap and Skeet and I enjoy Trap a lot more. Skeet is all about timing and getting into a rhythm. Trap is much more responsive, more like real pheasant or grouse hunting. Great sports!