Straight-shooting Lion Rifles ready for new season

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 29 views 

The Lion Rifles, the air rifle club team at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, are eager to improve on their 2008-2009 fifth-ranked standing college team. They go into the new season with the bulk of veterans from that team.

"We’ve got a really strong group of returning competitors," club coach and adviser Roy Hill said in a statement from the university. "We’ve had talented individuals return to the team in the past, but this is the strongest returning team we’ve ever had. If we can keep this team together and practice consistently, we could finish very well in the final club rankings in February."

This will be the sixth year of competition for Lion Rifles.

Not only did the Lion Rifles finish the previous season as the fifth-ranked college team, the team had three shooters ranked in the top 25 individual scores for club teams.

Morgan Welch of Springdale paced the team last year, scoring a 543 at the sectional match for 16th best in the country. John Wozniak of Fort Smith ended the season last year with a 533, good for 21st in the country. Tom Nguyen, of Fort Smith, ended the season ranked 23rd in the country with a 529. Welch and Nguyen return as sophomores.

Elizabeth Garris of Muldrow, Okla., finished the 2008-09 season with a 516 and the 28th overall position for collegiate club shooters.

Tthe Lion Rifles team schedule includes matches at the University of Mississippi (Sept. 26), University of Memphis (Sept. 27), and Texas Christian University (Nov. 21).

"We’re always looking for new competitors," Hill said. "Rifle is a neat sport in that men and women compete equally against each other. Any UA Fort smith student who’s interested is welcome to come to our practices. You don’t need experience to try out."

New to the team are Andy Land of Dover and Curtis Abbot from Fort Smith.