SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -When a certain group of Slippery Rock University students yell "Pull!" they are not involved in a tug-of-war - they're aiming at clay pigeons as part of the Clay Target Club, which has just scored a $10,000 grant.
The club, working with target-shooting hobbyist and club adviser John Buttermore, assistant professor in SRU's School of Business, applied for and received a grant from the National Shooting Sports foundation as part of its Scholastics Sports foundation based in Newtown, Conn. The money will be used for equipment, supplies and travel.
"I had a number of students come to me about a year ago to start a shooting club and because I was already an instructor and coach in the sport, I was more than enthusiastic and it was a nice fit," Buttermore said.
"We applied for and received club and organization approval from the Student Government Association here at the University, and we were off and running," he said.
"We built the club over last spring semester to 10 members and had a few others who tagged along," he said. "We are engaged in the clay target sports that include trap, skeet and sporting clays shooting competition."
Alaina Piazza, club president and a therapeutic recreation major from Harborcreek, and Caralee Wells, a communication major from Dalton, participated in the state Scholastic Clay Target Program tournament earlier this year. Both finished in the top 20 in collegiate competition.
"I like it because it is a really good sport to be involved in; it gives you both perspective and a challenge," Piazza said. She got involved in shooting while in high school and was among those who approached Buttermore with the club formation idea. "When, I came to college, I just wanted to continue in the sport."
"It is something you can do as an individual and as a member of a team," she said.
As club president, Piazza said she hoped to grow the club in terms of participants this year. "We hope to do more promotion and get more students involved," she said.
Buttermore said the club teamed with the New Castle-based Castlewood Rod and Gun Club, which allows them to use their facilities. The New Castle club grants members of the SRU club "collegiate membership." "They have been most gracious and helpful in building our club," Buttermore said.
The SRU club, which uses 12 and 20 gauge shotguns, has a membership category for SRU employees.
Buttermore said he personally enjoys the sport because of the "instant feedback."
"We are shooting pellets at a moving target. You know instantly if you have broken the target and it is very rewarding to see your skill improve," he said. "Overall, the sport is not growing; it has not been as popular with the younger generation. We think our club is helping to bring new interest," he said.
The NSSF money is in addition to funding supplied through a grant from the Association of College Unions International, which sponsors a national collegiate tournament in San Antonio, Texas, that draws competitors from such universities as Harvard and Yale. Funding is also provided through the Midway USA Foundation, which works in conjunction with the Castlewood Rod and Gun Club by providing matching grants provided by the New Castle club in support of the sport.
"Our club holds business-related meetings on campus to deal with organizational issues and twice a month we visit the range. The first meeting is 7:30 p.m., Sept. 3, in 119 Eisenberg. We hope to participate in both state and national tournaments this year. A major national event will be in Sparta, Ill.," Buttermore said.
The club also works with the Lawrence County Sportsmen's Association in West Pittsburgh, which allows club members to use their range.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.