STORY BY TRYSTAN KNAPP
Fort Hays State University’s very own Shooting Team took home much deserved hardware and winnings from the Division II Collegiate Clay Target Championships this past week in San Antonio, Texas. The Tiger Shooting Team brought home the following awards as a team: 1st place Super Sporting, 2nd place Team American Skeet, 1st place Team American Trap, 1st place Team Sporting Clays, 1st place International Trap, 1st place High Overall Team All American Events, and 1st place High Overall Shooting Team. Other awards were also given to Shooting Team members Austin Svoboda and Cody Escritt for individual winnings.
“I am a part of the Shotgun Sports Team because I have been told to do what I love for as long as I can. Shotgun Sports is a lifetime sport that I started when I was just 8 years old.” said Heather Gordon, President of the FHSU Shooting Club. Heather was in the Top 10 High Overall out of 168 women at the Division II National Championships. “I just finished my third season with the team. It’s brought so many opportunities and lifelong friends into my life.”
The Varsity Shooting Team was undefeated this season, which goes to show how hardworking and driven these individuals are.
“We have had to work hard to remain undefeated and we all had a single goal in sight and I believe that’s what got us our two national titles this year,” Gordon added when speaking on her team’s effort throughout the season.
Another member of the FHSU Shooting Team, Austin Svoboda, was the highest overall shooter in all six of the American and International events. Svoboda, who just finished his sixth season with the FHSU Shooting Team, has brought home awards for High Overall in Men’s Trap, High Overall in International Trap, High Overall Combined Trap, and tied with his teammate, Cody Escritt for the High Overall Men’s American Events Award.
“We were all focused on accomplishing both championships in the fall and spring, so there was a lot of determination from everyone.” Svoboda said when speaking about the team’s dedication while competing last week in San Antonio.
The man behind the team, Duane Shepherd, has been coaching the FHSU Shooting Team for 14 years. Coach Shepherd had nothing but positive things to say about his team’s effort at the Division II National Championships and how well they have worked together this season.
“I am extremely proud of this group. They have faced numerous obstacles all year and have met those obstacles with character and class.” said Shepherd.
The Shooting Team members also had nothing but great things to say about their coach. They believe that Duane and his wife, Teresa Shepherd, are the reason behind their accomplishments. Each season, the Shepherd’s always put in a lot of time and effort into making each team member the best they can be on and off of the shooting range. Heather Gordon, who was sure to point out the great people behind the Shooting Team’s continual success said, “The opportunities and support the Shepherd’s have provided for us is unmatched by any other team out there.”
There doesn’t seem to be one negative thing about the Fort Hays State Shooting Team. From winning multiple national titles to the building of each member’s skills and character, the bond between the team seems very incomparable. All of the positive characteristics that the FHSU Shooting Team portrays forms together to make a powerful and successful team.