The shot heard ’round the world

Rifle Team president sheds light on what the team is all about

The Rifle Team is a student organization at Tarleton State University whose mission is “to teach and develop safe and responsible use of firearms, shooting skills, self-discipline, and leadership through service rifle competition and service to others.”

The origins of the Tarleton State University Rifle Team lead us to 1900 when it was a part of the ROTC program. It later presented itself as a men’s service rifle team and a women’s Smallbore, also known as sharpshooting,  team. The teams were both shut down in the 1980s, but brought back to life by Dr. Michael Hawke, a professor in the college of education, in 1999. 

After reviving both teams, Hawke  made the group a co-educational student organization that no longer was tied into ROTC. 

In 2006, Hawke passed the team over to the current advisor, Dr. George Eichenberg, a criminal justice professor. Eichenberg has kept Hawke’s tradition alive, but has added his own tools to better the team. The team now focuses not only on competition shooting, but on leadership and education.

Since Eichenberg’s involvement in the team, there have been numerous members who have not only become great leaders and shooters, but have been certified as range safety officers as well as basic rifle instructors.

Since the program is an extracurricular activity, the club does not get any financial assistance from the university or the government. However, Eichenberg has still been able to keep the team afloat by having the students pay for their travel, match fees, and a few other expenses including small dues. This has ensured that the students are responsible and take the club seriously since they are investing in the club and their futures. However, the team does get local support as well as donations, discounts, and grants received by various sources.

Members of the Rifle Team are expected to attend the weekly practices, perform gear maintenance, and compete in competitions.

Amber Tower, president of the rifle team has been on the team since fall of 2019 and has fallen more in love with the organization each day. 

“Dr. E does so much for our team. He makes sure we have the supplies and resources we need to be successful. He dedicates a lot of personal time to the team and passes down a lot of knowledge and experience,“ Tower stated.

The team is made up of many talented young individuals that understand the seriousness of gun safety and enjoy the fun of shooting competitively.

 “We’ve had members that are extremely competitive and distinguished, such as current student Charisma Owen. We’ve had students that were previously in the military, and members that go onto a police officer career. However, we also have members that are very new to competitive shooting and are learning in a controlled environment. Questions are an important part of this sport because you can learn a lot from experienced shooters and questions are crucial for maintaining the safety of others. On this team we welcome learning and help each other improve our marksmanship skills,” Tower stated.

The organization has given its members a chance to express their appreciation for gun safety while also introducing them to like-minded individuals.

“This team is full of a bunch of great guys. We all go out to have fun, be competitive, and improve our craft. Each and every one of us enjoys what we do. I love the unique personalities, people, and opportunities we have experienced together,” Tower said.