St Andrews Rifle Club – The benefits of target shooting at University

Going to University opens up a world of new experiences, interests and opportunities. As the class of 2018 begin this journey, we’re introducing a series of articles from the UK’s universities. Here Charlotte Silverman from St Andrews University Rifle Club in Scotland tells us about the many benefits of shooting for students.  

“The University of St Andrews Rifle Club is composed of students from all years with the committee hailing from the UK, United States, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The club shoots smallbore (22LR) and fullbore (7.62mm) disciplines. Captain for the second year in a row is Claire Gregory, who gives the team all of her time by representing and guiding the club. This past summer she made a new website and helped update the range. In 2018, Claire brought the team to the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship in England, where we came fourth out of all the UK teams. The ladies triad secured third place.

The club is proud to have an impressive balance of men and women, which is important in a typically male dominated sport. One of the committee positions is dedicated to assuring we get new women shooters every year, and to act as a captain for the Ladies Team and for the female members of the club. This year the club would like to continue focusing on this gender balance and work on bringing in more young shooters to build the club’s membership.

Starting riflery at a young age is important because it teaches new shooters about the sport and how to stay safe. Starting early also ingrains proper breathing and position into the muscle memory, as well as educating why firearm safety is important and how to operate a gun correctly. I started shooting when I was ten years old and shot for five years (after memorising all the safety rules for the range!). I took a break when I was 15 until I went to the University of St Andrews. When I started again my body automatically knew how to get into position and the proper shooting techniques, thanks to training at a young age. Starting early can also teach valuable lessons such as patience and how to focus on the body and mind.

Because of the many lessons it teaches shooting is great for students at University. Rifelry teaches the body and mind how to be still and relaxed. Relaxing the body is important in order to maintain position, while relaxing the mind is important in order to shoot without letting worries and thoughts getting in the way of performance. Breathing is extremely important for the mind, and can help to reduce the stress, anxiety and pressure that comes with going to University. At St Andrews specifically, our rifle club is a great group to join because it’s inclusive and a place to make friends outside of the dorm and classroom. To get involved students can come to the four give-it-a-go sessions we have each year. These sessions welcome students of all shooting abilities and let them try their hand without committing to membership. We also host social events about once a month to help new members get to know the club and to talk to members about shooting. This year we are working on a set of resources to help members learn how to coach and correct errors, in order to help new members learn more efficiently and to encourage them stay with the club. We hope to grow and reach more students at St Andrews, so that we can spread the benefits of rifle shooting.”

Follow St-Andrew’s rifle team on Facebook and Instagram @ustarifle