Members of the Oklahoma State University Shotgun Sports Club gather while attending championship events at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio. (COURTESY CODY SUTTON)
The Oklahoma State University Shotgun Sports Club is among many groups nationwide that have jumped onto the wave of popularity sweeping over competitive shooting in the past decade or so.
Faculty adviser Nathan Walker, Ph.D., and founding members including Joe White and Trent Pribil organized the OSU team seven years ago. Now, the club has more than 70 shooters and is consistently earning honors at various shooting events across the Midwest.
Club President Cody Sutton of Beaver is hoping to land a spot on the U.S. shooting team for international skeet shooting in the next Olympic Games.
“This season my goals are to place in every shoot we attend,” Sutton said. “For our collegiate nationals, I want to place in the top 10 overall for all events.”
Last spring, Sutton earned medals in all four matches the club attended. He shot his way to wins in sporting clays; high overall in skeet, trap, sporting clays and wobble trap; and twice in international skeet.
The OSU team placed eighth out of 47 divisional teams at the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championship based on solid shooting from members including Bryce Cook, Tess Decker, Travis Hallum, J.T. Hearn, Mitchell Jones, Kyle Smith, Parker Smith and Sam Stingley, all of whom performed well above their competition, Sutton said.
“The Shotgun Sports Club started with less than 10 members. Now there is well over 70, thanks to the hard work of members promoting the club and working to make us better every year. We travel to schools as close as Wichita State and as far as the University of Wyoming, hitting about four shoots per semester, all thanks to fundraisers, benefactors and club members.
“Thanks to all the help we’ve received, plans have been made to build a shooting complex that will help propel this club to new heights in the state and hopefully the nation,” Sutton said. If that shooting range becomes reality, he said he might just have to find work in the Stillwater area so he can remain there and train for future successes.
The club practices twice a week to prepare for competitions, with about 20 members regularly attending practices.
Sutton’s interest in shooting sports started with hunting experiences he shared as a youth with his father and his uncle. Sutton figured he was a pretty good shot, so when he entered high school, he joined FFA so he could participate in that group’s clay target program.
He said the FFA shooting program is what sparked his interest in competing, and in perhaps someday representing his country in the Olympics. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Shotgun Training and Education Program is a major supporter of FFA shooting events across the state.
For more information about the OSU Shotgun Sports Club, go online to osushotgun.okstate.edu.