Augustana students braved the biting South Dakota wind and frigid temperatures at the Crooks gun range on November 9 while trap shooting with the Augustana Outdoor Program.
The temperature was 19 degrees with 18 mph winds, when 10 students along with David Schulz, the AOP director, and Jason Nelson, the outreach coordinator for the Outdoor Campus, arrived at the gun range. But Schulz wasn’t going to let the temperature ruin his or the students’ experience.
“It’s freezing,” Schulz said. “I came prepared though. I’ve got winter clothes on, I’ve got long johns on to stay warm. I don’t like to be cold, so I brought hand warmers for everyone.”
This was the event’s debut—a collaboration between the Outdoor Campus and the AOP.
Schulz believes that the event is an opportunity for students that want to go hunting but don’t know where to start.
“I think it’s a good event, especially for people in the rural areas,” he said. “There’s a lot of hunting opportunities around here and sometimes it’s hard to get into something like that if you don’t know people who hunt.”
According to Schulz, the idea seemed to be a hit with students.
“This one filled up really fast,” Schulz said. “I had 10 spots available and it was two days until all of the spots were gone.”
Nelson noticed that about half of the students at the event seemed familiar with using the 20-gauge shotguns, while the other half hadn’t operated firearms before. He said he was very pleased to see so many students interested in getting outdoors.
“Our big push right now is to get millennials outside,” said Nelson. “The baby boomers are aging out of our hunting population. We need new people interested in the outdoors and that’s my job.”
This event was senior Darwin Garcia’s second experience shooting a gun, the first being when he went hunting with a friend.
“I’m from Honduras, and we do have hunting, but it’s not as common there,” Garcia said. “So, when I tried it, it was fun. I really enjoyed it the first time, and that’s why I signed up for this.”
Garcia is pleased that the AOP put on the event and the fact that so many students showed an interest.
“They’ve been offering good activities, and I’m really glad that they had this as an option,” he said. “And people come. They had a lot of people interested, so I’m glad I signed up early enough.”
This was the first time that graduate student Annina Cooper has shot, but she said that she enjoyed the experience.
“It’s a cool event,” Cooper said. “It’s a little cold, but that’s okay. It’s a lot of fun, [and] I would totally do this again.”
Cooper said that she thinks it is important that students have opportunities like these to learn how to be safe when handling firearms.
“I think that safety is really, really important,” she said. “It’s definitely really important for people to know how to use a gun and how to be safe with a gun.”
Schulz said that the AOP is planning to do another trap shooting event sometime in the spring of 2019.