With steady aim and help from a young gun, the rifle team is looking to stay in Fort Worth come NCAA Championship time.
Coming off last season where the women’s rifle team finished third in the nation, head coach Karen Monez is optimistic about the team’s prospects for the rest of the spring.
The last competition of the season is the NCAA qualifier match against the Air Force Academy where Monez said it isn’t crucial that the team wins, but that the team has to shoot a high score to qualify for the championship.
Junior Emily Paper said that many students have misconceptions about the sport or aren’t aware that it exists but as the team has experienced success since she started on the team, the sport’s profile has been raised. Paper said her freshman year was the first year the rifle team made it to the NCAA Championship and since then the team has been building a reputation. With TCU hosting the NCAA Championship in March, Paper said the added attention and promotions will further heighten the team’s profile.
In the meantime, Paper is keeping a cool head when it comes to looking ahead to the postseason.
“I just try and treat important matches like everyday matches and not put too much pressure on myself because then you worry too much about score and you’re not shooting your best,” Paper said.
“Obviously, it’s always nice to have a win but the wins and losses don’t get you to the NCAA as a qualifier – it’s the scores you shoot,” Monez said.
Monez said one player in particular, freshman Mattie Brogdon, has had a breakthrough first season. Monez said Brogdon has been one of the four “counters” whose scores count in the competition.
Brogdon said there weren’t many problems in the transition from high school to collegiate rifle shooting thanks in part to what she said was a welcoming atmosphere among her new teammates. She said the bond formed with her teammates in her first year has helped her when tough situations present themselves.
“It’s like we’re all sisters so it’s really good to have somebody say, ‘Oh, it’s OK if you did bad,’ or ‘Shoot good,’ or just kind of give you that boost of confidence because they’re there for you,” Brogdon said.
Brogdon said the only adjustment was getting used to the college rules for rifle in the first couple of matches, but she caught on fast and said she isn’t nervous about any upcoming matchups.