Shooting team ready for first competitions

Bowling Green senior Patrick Neumann is the captain of the WKU Shooting Sports club.

Kalee Chism

Semesters in the making, WKU’s new shooting team is getting ready to take on competitions after becoming a team last year.

The team currently competes in an event called the Steel Challenge sanctioned by the Scholastic Action Shooting Program, according to head coach Daniel Birkenhauer. The event involves set courses of fire that rely on accuracy and speed in junior varsity and varsity level competitions, he said.

Birkenhauer said the team has plans to expand this year to include trap, skeet and sporting clays teams, all under the umbrella of WKU shooting sports.

The team is currently made up of around 10 people, with goals of gaining more members throughout the year.

After the team formed last year, the spring semester served as a start-up period, with focus on getting the word out and becoming an established club on campus.

The team competed at the national level last semester, although they didn’t participate in many other competitions. Campbellsville senior Patrick Neumann, captain of the team, said the national competition was a way to get their feet wet before continuing this year.

“It’s a lot to get a new group of guys together and literally learn a new sport and be competitive in it during a time span of six months,” said Birkenhauer. “Last year we took a group of eight to nationals, and had one squad score second in their division. I was more than proud and had a blast with the group.”

This coming semester the team will see a lot of changes, including gaining a range and fundraising, Birkenhauer said.

Birkenhauer said there’s “no better feeling” than he gets from coaching the team, and hopes to focus on making the team as good as it can be.

“Feels like a dream come true for me,” Birkenhauer said. “I hope to be in Bowling Green for a long time and this is all I want.”

He said his favorite thing to do is teach, and that he will spend every extra minute he has to making the shooters as good as they would like to be. He said he told his wife he hopes she isn’t worried about money, because he will be spending everything he can on making the team the most successful in the country.

Neumann said he’s most looking forward to growing the team, and educating people about guns. He said he wants people to realize that guns are not toys and should be respected, though the sport can still be fun.

“You can have fun and be safe,” Neumann said. He added that he is looking forward to building camaraderie among the team, getting the name out and just having fun.

“I guess that’s my biggest take-away: to know that when I’m gone that people will still be having fun and being smart with the weapon, and knowing that it’s not just a play-toy, because it most definitely is not,” Neumann said.

Birkenhauer said he invites everyone to come out to learn more about the shooting team, both through its online pages and meetings.

“I want them to know that this is the most inclusive sport there is on campus,” Birkenhauer said. “You can have absolutely no experience and be from any walk of life, and you will pick up the basics very quickly.”

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 [email protected].