Their gym has an armory

Trap shooting is the latest sport at Paul Smith’s College

From left, Riley Prokop of Woburn, Massachusetts, Luke Eckert of Paul Smiths and Seth Miller of Lowville are members of the Paul Smith’s College trap shooting team. (Provided photo — Jordan Craig Photography)

PAUL SMITHS — Paul Smith’s College offers 27 different varsity sports, including woodmen’s teams. Its most recent addition to that lineup is the Bobcats trap shooting team.

The sport of trap shooting dates back to the 1900 Summer Olympics; it was started at the school in 2019 with the financial assistance of local businesses.

The sport and the natural environment of Paul Smith’s College lend themselves to each other. The fledgling program took advantage of 12,000 acres (of the school’s 14,200) and turned a log landing into a trap shooting field.

“Our students love to be outside hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, you name it,” said Brett McLeod, head coach and PSC forestry professor. “If it’s outside, they want to do it. Trap shooting is something we can do out here at PSC. Students are able to come out every week and blow off a little steam. They typically shoot between 50 and 100 rounds while they’re out here, and their scores are then entered against other colleges throughout the United States, so we’re able to compete virtually against about 50 other schools.”

McLeod’s latter point is critical in this COVID-19 era. Health and safety are important to a college that has turned up no positive tests in the fall semester.

The shooters are led by team captain Seth Miller, a student who came to PSC from Lowville, where he shot for Beaver River Central School. He practiced at the local fish and game club, where his grandfather was president.

“What got me to come here was the forestry program,” stated Miller, who as a shooter is ranked fourth in New York state and 78th in the nation. “I came here on a couple of visits, spoke with some professors, and just loved it up here. When I got here, I was thrilled to find out we were starting a trap team. I spoke with Brett when I got here, and we started it out.”

The sport got noticed on campus originally when Annie Jardin of Mexico, New York, PSC Class of 2013, a member of the USA Trap Shooting Team and a competitor in biathlon and Nordic skiing, nearly qualified for the shooting competitions in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Trap shooting is the second shooting sport that has been welcomed recently on campus. In the fall, PSC and US Biathlon entered into a sport and education initiative where rising, elite-level athletes can train at the school and attend classes simultaneously. Biathletes use .22-calibre rifles and shoot at stationary targets in prone and standing positions, while trap shooting incorporates 12-gauge shotguns and competitors firing at high angles at moving clay targets from a standing position.

“PSC is one of the few colleges that actually has its own armory at the Saunders Sports Complex,” added McLeod. “That means that students can safely store firearms and bows there. And all you have to do is pick up the phone, the campus safety officers meet you, and you can head out into the field.”

The trap team is also welcomed to use the Rod and Gun Club in Long Lake for practice sessions under the lights.

PSC’s current roster features 15 athletes from six different states.


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