TROY – Troy University may be known for its Division 1A Troy Trojans football team, or even for its rodeo team, but now it can add a pistol team to the Trojan lineup.
Five TROY criminal justice students are taking aim to leave more than just one mark for TROY by competing in Lambda Alpha Epsilon’s firearms competition on Wednesday at the American Criminal Justice Association’s 72nd national conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
“We wanted to reestablish an LAE chapter at TROY and we had students who wanted to attend the conference,” said Dr. Jeff Lee, an associate professor of criminal justice and social sciences who serves as the chapter’s advisor. “We looked at the activities the conference offered and the students liked the idea of the pistol competition so that’s what we’re doing.”
With just two months on the practice range, the group of four undergraduates and one graduate student believe they’re ready to compete against other criminal justice students from around the nation.
“I thought it was important to get into a club and get active,” said Alex Wascum, a junior from Prattville. “I had a gun and had done some shooting but this will be my first competition.”
Like Wascum, Josh Shavers, a junior from Mobile, finds handling a gun second nature.
“My dad used to take me shooting, so I’ve been pretty comfortable with a gun but this is a way I can sharpen my skills,” he said.
Quickly recruited to help the team was “coach” Dave Barron, executive assistant to Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr., a former member of the U.S. Navy Shooting Team and a U.S. Distinguished Pistol Shot who continues to participate in pistol competitions across the country.
“There’s a lot of pressure on them when they’re in competition. Standing next to a lot of other good shooters and performing specific actions with a clock on them creates that pressure,” he said.
Barron should know about that pressure. He’s a three-time Alabama State Resident Champion, been the Alabama State Champion, Alabama State Expert Champion and in 2008 was both the Alabama State Master Champion and Governor’s Twenty (Pistol). In addition to the Navy Pistol Team, he was a member of the Alabama Service Pistol Team for two years and the National Rifle Association/USA Pistol Team in 2004.
Indeed, there’s more to it than just shooting at a target, he said. Not only must the students score well on target, but they also must do so from seven, 15 and 25 yards, shoot from a variety of positions, and must follow range commands or face disqualification.
Still, the students seem to have a way of keeping it all in perspective.
“This is a way I can perfect my shooting,” said Rancheros Fortune, a graduate student from Montevallo. “There’s no use having a pistol if you can’t shoot it. This is good experience.”
In addition to Shavers, Wascum and Fortune, other members of the team include Joe Hicks, a junior from Birmingham and Russell Sherling, a junior from Montgomery.