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.