Between The Berms: Here Come The Mustangs
Cal Poly, home to the Mustangs, is an engineering powerhouse with U.S. News & World Report ranking it the best engineering school in the Western United States in its 'America's Best Colleges' report.
California Polytechnic State University also features outstanding Architectural and Agricultural programs. Located in San Luis Obispo, in California's scenic Central Coast region, it boasts a great college town atmosphere.
It also boasts one of the newest, and soon to be up-and-coming, collegiate shooting programs in the country.
Late last school year, students formed the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club
and on short notice grew to 50 members.
Not too shabby for a state college in the most gun unfriendly state in the union.
This year the club received a major boost from the industry
through a one-time $10,000 grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation's Collegiate Shooting Sports Initiative
, reflecting both the foundation's commitment to the shooting sports and, perhaps, the industry's desire to make shooting more popular in the Golden State that has been less than 'Golden' when it comes to anything gun related.
When school came back in session in late September the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club was ready and in two short months has managed to register 57 official, dues-paying members. Club officials are looking to reach an ambitious 150 members by the end of the school year.
At its range nights, held at the San Luis Obispo Sportsmen Association (SLOSA) ranges, they pulled in over 70 attendees for the first event of the year and have averaged around 45 since.
Matt Theiss, Mechanical Engineering major and industry liaison for the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club, helps direct students during the club's first range night event. Photo by P. Erhardt
Realizing that $10,000 doesn't go very far in this day and age of high priced ammo, club officials are working on a plan to turn their program self-sufficient in the coming years.
To make their NSSF seed money go further, the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club has purchased firearms at reduced distributor pricing through the help of Apex Tactical Specialties where Randy Lee, founder and president, is a Cal Poly Engineering School alum and committed to providing whatever support the club needs.
Since member dues will only go so far, the club is looking to field teams to compete in the Scholastic Pistol Program and the Scholastic Clay Target Program to take advantage of the unique fundraising opportunities generously provided by Larry and Brenda Potterfield through their MidwayUSA Foundation
Because of the aforementioned draconian gun laws passed by the oh-so-well intentioned Golden State legislators, no doubt eager to pave that proverbial road to Hell, Californians are severely limited to what model handguns they can purchase. Case in point, America's most iconic firearms brand, Smith & Wesson, is now limited to just two semi-auto models in the state: the very compact M&P Shield and the SD VE.
S&W, along with Glock, is a charter sponsor of the Scholastic Pistol Program and has offered teams their most popular competition model, the M&P. However, that's now not an option in California so Cal Poly has been forced to go with the SD and has reached out to Smith & Wesson for help in that area.
To raise the club's profile on campus and at the range, the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club is producing a club t-shirt for members. The design is pending approval by school officials who may or may not be enthusiastic about guns and/or the second amendment, and potentially blind to the irony of limiting expression of the second amendment by restricting the first amendment. Go figure.
But, undeterred the club plans to move forward with a t-shirt design and is looking to the locally-based firearms industry leaders, Apex, Hogue and Weatherby, to help underwrite the cost of the club's shirt...once it's approved.
Cal Poly Marksmanship Club officers address a packed lecture hall during the first club meeting of the year. Photo courtesy of Matt Theiss
A second t-shirt is in the planning stages with the hope that the sale of it to the greater firearms community will generate much needed funds to fill next year's coffers and support an active competition program.
The ability to sell club merchandise, such as hats and t-shirts, with the school logo and colors is heavily restricted by the schools which ferociously guard their trademarks and the resulting revenue from licensing. Unfortunately this limitation on the use of the logos hampers the funding ability of clubs which could easily generate financial support from firearms owners around the country eager to showcase pride in the various collegiate shooting programs.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club's plans, and one that could truly set it apart from other collegiate shooting programs around the country, is its desire to bring in outside speakers. Because this is an engineering school, and the club has several engineering students involved in it, the notion of having industry engineers come and present at the school opens up the speaker program to far more than just the club itself.
And more importantly, the club could turn into a recruiting center for the overall industry making it a very popular club among all students within the engineering school, especially those about to graduate and looking for that first job.
The next great firearm design engineer could be among those students flocking to the Cal Poly Marksmanship Club's meetings. Photo courtesy of Matt Theiss
An active and growing shooting club in California's collegiate system. A club whose leadership is looking for ways to fundraise and sustain itself into the future. And a student group that is looking to become a conduit to firearms industry recruiters...
Yeah, here come the Mustangs. Now, who wants one of those shirts?
- Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network
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