Boost with a Bang: Marksmanship club increases membership

David Tinsley lines up his sights on his air rifle on the target card down range during a practice at the ROTC range under Parking Structure 1. Tinsley, instructor Joe Tinsley’s son, has won national and international marksmanship awards since he picked up a BB gun when he was 9 years old.

Lauren Arnold

WKU’s marksmanship club went from having two members last year to about 15 now.

A group of students were trying to create a marksmanship club for about a year-and-a half before instructor Joe Tinsley became the sponsor last fall.

“They were having a hard time trying to find someone to sponsor the club,” he said.

Now, the club is gaining recognition, with one member qualifying for the Junior Olympics.

Marksmanship focuses on accuracy and precision while firing at a target down a range.

Bowling Green senior Stephanie Novoa said the club is growing quickly, with many new freshman and sophomore members, and she hopes it will help WKU’s chances of regaining recognition for its marksmanship.

“We want to compete and win championships,” she said. “We haven’t been on the map since the ‘70s.”

Paducah freshman Hannah Burnett will be competing in the air pistol event at the Junior Olympics on April 13 and 14.

Burnett has been participating in the marksmanship sport since she was 7.

She joined WKU’s marksmanship club after taking Tinsley’s marksmanship class, which is a PE 101 course.

Tinsley said that the marksmanship club provides a safe environment where students can work toward reaching their potential in their sport.

“I want to teach the students about guns and safety, but in the right way,” Tinsley said. “It’s something they can use for the rest of their lives.”

Novoa joined the marksmanship club in September and is now the club’s secretary.

She said she had never participated in any shooting sports until August, when she signed up for Tinsley’s class.

Novoa has had her concealed carry license for about three years, but she said that the experience of being in the marksmanship club is completely different.

“I’ve never shot at anything outside of that,” she said. “I was interested in the club, because I was never exposed to any guns or anything like that.”

Students shouldn’t be scared to join the club because they feel like they won’t fit in, Novoa said.

“When people think of shooting sports, they think of the stereotypical redneck, but there are so many different kinds of people involved,” she said.

A long-term goal for the WKU marksmanship club is to be as recognized as other university marksmanship teams in the state, Tinsley said.

“We want to enter competitions with other schools, like Murray, Morehead and UK,” he said.

He encourages the members to participate in competitions and try out for the National Development Rifle Team, from which Olympians are selected.

Burnett spends between four and six hours a week practicing on a range, she said.

She said Tinsley, who was an Olympic assistant head coach, has helped her become a better athlete.

“I think knowing him is really going to help me develop in the next few years,” she said.

She said being in the marksmanship club has also helped her make new friends that she probably wouldn’t have met anywhere else.

“We all talk and help each other out,” she said. “We just have a really good time.”