In a game where the scores are big and the targets are small, TCU’s rifle team has started the season in record fashion. The women’s goals are quite precise: each bull’s-eye they shoot at is roughly the size of a 50-cent piece. Head coach Karen Monez said that to score a perfect 10 on a shot, “you have to hit a spot that’s the size of the period at the end of a sentence.”
Freshman Tanya Gorin pulls out a target to demonstrate; each of the small targets on the sheet is worth up to 10 points. Shooters have 60 shots in which they try to get as close as possible to a perfect individual score: 600.
While an individual score on smallbore or air rifle can reach 600, a team score is comprised of four individual scores, for up to 2,400 points in each category. The Frogs currently sit on a record aggregate score of 4,572 as they head to the NRA Sectionals and NCAA Qualifier Feb. 11 and Feb. 12.
Marez said even though the team is not quite at the level required to move on to the NCAA Championships, all four of the top shooters have the potential to move on individually.
But, the team has started the year well. The squad dominated the UTEP Triangular in El Paso Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, setting new records in both smallbore and air rifle. Gorin broke the school record in 60-shot air rifle for the third time this season with a score of 586. Senior Celeste Green, junior Emily Conway and freshman Kristine Tisinger also added personal-best scores at the weekend competition.
When asked what has made this team so strong, Monez, who has coached the team for the past year and a half, said recruiting makes all the difference. Finding strong, competitive, consistent shooters is no small task, and even more daunting are the hours that the shooters are expected to put in to compete at a collegiate level.
Gorin says she practiced four to five times a week this fall, three to four hours a day. Practice time dwindles in the spring because of frequent competitions, and the focus veers toward maintenance rather than improvement.
Some of the team’s overall success can also be attributed to changes in the competition style. Until this year, an individual shot up to 120 smallbore points and 40 air rifle points. Now the division is 60-60,
This pleases Gorin, who said she has come to prefer air rifle. Monez said air rifle tends to be a favorite for many shooters since it allows them to stand for their shots, while the smallbore shooters have to alternate between prone, standing and kneeling positions for different shots.
Gorin has proved to be no different. She said she began competing in smallbore competitions with a junior program in the sixth grade. When she later became one of the top seven shooters on that team and began shooting air rifle, she found that it gave her “fewer kinks” to work out.
Despite the team’s charge through the gates, the season has yet to reach it’s pinnacle: the NCAA Championships. Though the team only has three more tournament weekends, the spring season still holds its competitive edge for TCU Rifle.