An Honest Look at Collegiate Shooting
Honesty time: being a collegiate athlete is not an easy task. I was warned, but I went ahead and made my decision to become a member of a division I team in the NCAA. If there was a warning label on college athletics, it might read something like this:
WARNING: difficulties of being a collegiate student-athlete may include but are not limited to: balancing travel and competitions nearly every weekend while juggling academics, health and a social life. Some individuals have reported struggling with creating a class schedule around required practice times; finding time to sleep, getting (and keeping) a job, learning new songs on the ukulele and finding time for Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons on Netflix.
Those last two may apply mostly to me, but I think you get the point.
My father, who doubles as my coach, even specifically warned me that "Shooting can start to feel like a job," and not the fun kind. You can feel like you need to push through those required practice hours rather than bask in the joy of every last second of them. Collegiate shooting can burn you out, just as any college sport can.
Heeding all of these warnings, I was very careful not to over practice. I tried to get along with my teammates. I worked to keep shooting fun and something to look forward to, like it had always been for me. But I still ended up feeling burnt out sometimes. I still ended up feeling like I just needed to take a break. Luckily, I never got to the point of hating it, but a few times I felt close.
This year, I decided to take a nice, long break from shooting before I started working at a rifle camp. I had all of May off with no school and no job. So, as a typical college student home from school, living ten minutes from the beach and in the midst of great weather, I sat alone in my dark house and watched Netflix for hours on end. It was wonderful. I dry fired maybe three times while I was home and I was in a very happy place. No shooting, no obligations, just time to unwind and not worry about anything.
Then a strange thing happened. I got to Alabama and started coaching. I began working with young, vibrant shooters who were just starting out and have long shooting careers ahead of them. I was hanging out exclusively with top collegiate shooters and talking about...shooting. Suddenly, for the first time in a while, I was reinvigorated. I craved shooting. I needed to get that rifle into my hands and start training immediately. I realized the love that I had almost lost and I felt the unreal excitement of finding it again. This isn't a job, it's a passion! It's a discipline! It's a huge part of my life that I hope to never lose. And I plan to bring this feeling into my final season of shooting in college. I can't wait.
Kelly Bogart is a Film, Television and Digital Media and Political Science double major at Texas Christian University. Bogart has seven years of shooting under her belt and currently competes on TCU’s Women’s Rifle Team. Bogart is traveling the country this summer as a coach teaching high school students across the country how to improve their shooting skills. In addition to coaching and competing, Bogart is a freelance blog writer working with The Mako Group.