It’s not often a sports team wins with an actual bang, but the U’s Pistol Team did just that.
The team brought home several wins from the National Inter-Collegiate Pistol Championships in March, winning four events — two individual and two national — against shooting powerhouses such as MIT. They met with U President David Pershing to celebrate their victories on Monday.
Matt DeLong, the team’s assistant coach, started the team in 1994 in partnership with the U. Since then, the team has become one of the best pistol teams in the country.
“I don’t do this to win national championships,” DeLong said. “Time spent on the collegiate team more than pays for itself through academics. Shooting is all about focus, self-control, mental discipline and training your conscious brain to not interfere with perfectly simple activities.”
Alexis Lagan, a senior in physics, joined her freshman year and is now the president of the team.
“I shoot anywhere from 10 to 30 hours a week on the range,” she said. “It not only helps with your focus and your concentration, but it also helps with time management.”
Lagan said prior to joining the team she had only done plinking — shooting at informal targets, such as tin cans or glass bottles — when she was younger. She won the women’s aggregate award this year for the second time, and she is going to the World Collegiate Championships in South Korea, as well as a World Cup event in May to try out for the Olympics.
“Through the coaching staff and the support that you receive, you definitely feel like you have the strength to continue through whatever may come and become a nationally ranked shooter,” she said. “You don’t have to be just limited to a collegiate career.”
Pistol teams are rare on college campuses, especially on the West coast. The only other school in the Pac-12 with a team is Oregon State.
DeLong said people have a misconception that the U is anti-guns.
“The team’s always been supported by the administration,” he said. “Specifically, whenever they were having the big brouhaha about concealed carry on campus — that was irrelevant to the team.”
The team has about eight to 10 students involved on average. Members typically are majoring in physics and engineering.
The group does not receive financial aid from the U, and ASUU has a provision that bans spending money on ammunition, so they rely on donations and membership fees.
Tryouts for the team are next Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5 p.m. in the basement of the Naval Science Building. DeLong said students don’t need to bring anything, but they’re welcome to pack their own eye and ear protection. Anyone is free to come.