UK Shotgun Team mixes friendship, firearms

By K’Quan McNease

[email protected]

Through all the gun smoke, discharged shells and shattered targets, the UK Shotgun Team emphasizes a sense of camaraderie among teammates.

The team is entirely student led and has competed on the national level against schools like Florida, Florida State and Clemson.

Three members on the team have had national recognition and were invited to the Olympic training center.

Senior Wil Jackson, biology major and a member of the team, was one of the three invited.

“I went for a week where we shot 300 shells a day, but the coolest part was eating in the cafeteria with people like Michael Phelps,” Jackson said.

Jackson began shooting around the age of nine when he joined the 4H camp in his hometown, and he said he continued through middle and high school.

“The camaraderie from everyone is what makes us a good team,” Jackson said. “Teaching each other is the best part because you are always learning.”

The team practices and sometimes competes at the Bluegrass Sportsman’s League. They practice different disciplines like trap shooting, sporting clays, five stand and five cage.

Although the team provides firearms to newcomers, members must take their own firearms and ammunition to competitions. No tactical shotguns are permitted, and any ammunition that travels more than 13,000 ft. per second is not allowed.

“I got humbled a little bit — my teammates were my biggest competitors,” said Jacob Yount, a secondary English education senior who serves as the team’s vice president.

Yount joined the team in the fall of his freshman year. He also finished fourth at nationals where it came down to a sudden death shootout.

“It’s a mental fight and a thinking game, but that’s why you have your team,” Yount said. “The team is always there to pick you when your off your game.”

Everyone is equally important when it comes to the teams success, according to Yount. Just like a track team, he said each person plays a major role in the teams placing when they compete.

Both Yount and Jackson said safety of each individual on the team is their main focus.

“Anyone can shoot, but we want everyone to have fun doing it,” Yount said.

There is a $130 per year fee or a $75 per semester fee to be on the team, and members must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA and take at least six credit hours.

The team’s first competition is Friday, Oct. 23 in Jacksonville, Fla.