Close-knit Relationships Are the Key to Success for South Dakota's First Collegiate Varsity Shotgun Sports Team
June 11, 2018
YANKTON, SD — Coach Randy Hummel loves two things, shotgun sports and family. The veteran 4H Shooting Sports instructor and former NRA Hunter Class Silhouette Pistol competitor has been peering down barrels, and teaching others do the same, for most of his life. So, when Mount Marty College (MMC) asked him to take his passion to the helm of the state’s first collegiate trap shooting club in 2014, he didn’t hesitate.
“Shotgun sports is special,” says Hummel. “Other than good hand-eye coordination, it doesn’t demand the same physical requirements of other sports, and that means just about anyone can cultivate the sportsmanship, concentration, and relationships that come with involvement in collegiate athletics.” Hummel paused, “I wanted to be a part of that.”
Five academic years down the road Hummel is more than a coach; he’s a trailblazer. This fall he’ll lead the way as MMC’s club team transitions from the first collegiate trap shooting club in South Dakota to the first — and only — varsity-level shooting team in the state.
Hummel says the change will benefit both the college and potential athletes. “The move from club-team to varsity status will help us increase our recruiting footprint and will provide competitive scholarship opportunities to students who are interested in shooting at the collegiate level.”
Hummel is excited to help MMC pioneer the success of collegiate shooting in South Dakota. “Shooting sports are a great fit for South Dakota. It’s an extremely popular high school sport in the Yankton area, the region, and the nation; and there’s growing interest in shooting as a collegiate sport — MMC’s expansion is a response to that interest.”
While paying for college is certainly at the top of most student’s minds, Hummel believes it isn’t the only reason to participate in shooting sports in college. “Shooting is a lifetime sport,” says Hummel, “Yes, my athletes learn leadership skills that will serve them well in their careers, but they’ll also discover an activity they can share with friends and family for the rest of their lives, and that’s priceless.”
When it comes to family Hummel knows what he’s talking about. He grew up shooting, and to this day it’s a family affair. “My dad was a trap shooter, so I’ve been around shooting for most of my life.” Randy smiled. “It was a good day when I was finally able to share it with my son, and now I have an extended family through the team at MMC.”
One member of that college family is MMC junior Nathan List. List is no stranger to hard work, shooting, or Coach Hummel. The double major — he’s working toward degrees in Recreation Management and Business Administration — has been shooting with Hummel for more than half a decade. “I started shooting my freshman year of high school when Coach Hummel and his son Sam invited me to try shooting clay pigeons, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
List soon found himself on the Yankton 4H shooting team, a decision that left an undeniable impact. “Shooting built up my confidence and taught me how to become a leader,” says List. “I’ve learned to stay calm in high-pressure situations, have patience, and I’ve created great relationships with people I may not have met otherwise.”
Six years down the road List says his relationship with Coach Hummel is one of the highlights of his career. When asked what makes Coach Hummel stand out List grinned. “Randy always has a smile on his face, he’s not afraid to make you laugh, and he has an outstanding work ethic,” he explained. “He’s been by my side through good and bad days and is always pushing me to next level — that’s how I discovered that even if you attend a small college, you can still compete with some of the top schools in the nation.”
Coach Hummel agrees. While the team’s ultimate purpose is to develop sportsmanship, concentration, and relationship skills that will prove beneficial beyond the college years, he says there’s stiff competition in the world of collegiate shooting.
"We’re lucky, two of the major meets — the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) and Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) shoots — happen in Grand Island, NE which is relatively close to MMC’s Yankton campus, but we finish the year at the ACUI Nationals shoot in San Antonio, Texas, so we also get to travel.”
When they’re not competing the team trains at two locations; Jim River Trap Range and James Valley Sporting Clays. Hummel says MMC is lucky to have access to excellent facilities so close to campus, “Jim River Trap range has a skeet field which is one of a handful in South Dakota, as well as American Trap and Wobble Trap. James Valley Sporting Clays has varied terrain which allows numerous options for throwing targets resulting in a varied training experience.”
As for List, Hummel says when it comes to competition he’s come through again and again, “Nathan shot for me throughout high school and represented South Dakota at 4H nationals. He also competed in Jr Olympics and at ACUI Nationals for the last two years as part of the MMC club team,” Hummel explained, “I’m extremely proud of him. He’s a great example of a small school athlete being able to compete head-to-head with bigger schools.”
As spring turns into summer and summer winds down into fall, Hummel says his MMC team is on the right foot going into its first varsity season, “We have a good core group shooting at the club level,” he said. “They have excellent communication, so if one member is struggling with a discipline someone else is usually able to step up and help out.” Hummel says it’s an ideal foundation for a team that is preparing to accept new members. “Ideally I’d like to see the team grow to 15 or 20 shooters, but what I want most is a squad full of athletes with a passion for the sport who know that having fun and being safe are the most important aspects of shooting.”
Mount Marty College’s Varsity Shotgun Sports team is recruiting team members for the 2018-2019 season. For more information visit www.mmclancers.com/shotgunsports.