By Julian De Ocampo ’13
Each year, new ideas for clubs sprout and wither away as the seasons pass, struggling
to gain the traction to sustain and entrench themselves in the Brophy community.
The Brophy Shooting Sports Club has dared to say otherwise.
In the span of three years, the new club now boasts more than 70 registered athletes–compared to six in their first year–in several different events, more than 20 certified coaches and myriad medals.
Much of this glory comes from the club’s 2012 run at the Scholastic Clay Target Program’s National Championships in Sparta, Ill., where the team took second place in a competition boasting 452 participants.
The BSS Club website lists the following sports as part of the club’s repertoire: “rifle (small bore), archery, and the shotgun disciplines of skeet, trap and sporting clays.”
Bearing a no-cut policy, the team welcomes interested students for all skill levels willing to pay dues for equipment, going as far as to hold an annual “Learn to Shoot Day” wherein interested students can see the team and action and try out some guns for themselves.
The club cooperates in close conjunction with Brophy fathers in the Dad’s Club, who closely advise students and support the team.
Key among those figures is Mr. Mark Brown, head coach and father of club President Nate Moreno ’13.
Mr. Brown has coached everything from snow skiing to Olympic rifle over the past 30 years and is currently a certified National Rifle Association instructor.
Mr. Brown is aided by lead assistants Mr. Mark Cardwell and Mr. Bill Gerchar, as well as a board of elected student officers headed by Moreno.
In addition to these members, Mr. Brown said that the club boasts connections with Olympic Skeet team member Sean McClelland, 2009 National Champion in Sporting Clays Gebben Miles and National Champion archer Tanja Washburn.
The club has also gained traction at Brophy, where Principal Mr. Bob Ryan and faculty member Mr. Scott Heideman have voiced support for the group in keynote speeches given to the club. The speeches can be viewed on the club’s web site.
The members of the Shooting Sports Club practice in several disciplines, but the unifying theme that shooters were quick to mention was the emphasis the sport has on building character and upholding Brophy values.
“Our ultimate goal is to insure that every member of Brophy Shooting Sports teams graduates having excelled to their greatest potential both in their shooting skill as well as their commitment to being a ‘Man for Others,’” Mr. Brown said in an email.
Their mission statement factors in the character-building aspect heavily, stating that their goal is to build “Excellence in skills, depth of character, focused performance, and exceptional team spirit.”
Vice President of Public Relations and Promotions Jeremy Nickerson ’14 said the team is aiming to take first in nationals this year. But their long-term goal is something more personal.
“The long-term goal for our athletes is to develop the mental fortitude to withstand the challenges they face in shooting and in life,” Nickerson said.
The club currently practices on most Sundays at Ben Avery Shooting Range facility, and all members are required to be versed in gun safety before participating.
Competitions are also held at Ben Avery, although the team also travels both in-state to Tucson and to out-of-state tournaments, according to club member Dominick Olmedo ’13.
In addition to their run at nationals, the team also ranked second in state and plans to compete again this year.
Mr. Brown said the club hopes to become “a legacy sport at Brophy, earning the right to hang our state and national championship banners in the Bronco gymnasium.”
But for the members of the still-young Shooting Sports Club, the current goal is deeper than banners.
“More than just the technical abilities of our athletes on the field, we are more concerned about the character of our athletes,” Moreno said. “Everything we do is in light of the Grad at Grad principles and AMDG.”
For more information on the club as well as registration materials, visit their website at https://sites.google.com/a/brophybroncos.org/brophy-shooting-sports/.