(AK) Univ of Alaska Fairbanks wins 5 straight rifle championships


May 5, 2003, 08:18 PM
The best, and they know it
NANOOKS: Team has won 5 straight national crowns.

By Mary Pemberton
The Associated Press

(Published: May 5, 2003)

Fairbanks, Alaska -- Matt Emmons slowly lifted a bullet from the box and inserted it into the chamber of his .22-caliber rifle.

He let out a deep sigh, and his torso settled into his hip joints, visibly shrinking him. His eyelids sank over dark blue eyes as if he was about to fall asleep. His eyes widened, he peered at the target 50 feet away, blinked fast three times, and squeezed the trigger.

Another perfect shot.

The 5-foot-7 University of Alaska Fairbanks athlete is a really good shot. And he knows it.

"Arguably, I'm the best all-around rifle shooter in the world right now," Emmons said, when asked to size up his talent.

Few would argue.

"Matt is in his own class. He's a prodigy. He is, in a way, genius," said rifle coach Glenn Dubis, who recently took over the team from David Johnson, who now coaches the U.S. national team.

Emmons, 22, from Browns Mills, N.J., led UAF's rifle team to its fifth straight NCAA championship in March. He did it by breaking his own NCAA record in smallbore with a score of 1,191 out of a possible 1,200, and became the first shooter in NCAA history to win the event three consecutive times.

He was the 2002 champion in the 50-meter men's prone event at the World Championships in Lahti, Finland. He's the only college shooter to get a perfect score in standing smallbore at 50 feet. And he's the only one to shoot a perfect score in air rifle -- and he's done that three times.

The International Sport Shooting Federation ranks Emmons first in 50-meter prone and fifth in 50-meter three-position rifle. Last year, he was voted runner-up shooter of the year, according to the International Association of Shooting Sports Journalists.

And as if that's not enough, Emmons is a straight-A student who is graduating fifth in his class.

But he isn't the only star on the UAF riflery team.

At the NCAA Rifle Championships at West Point, N.Y., the Nanooks set a national collegiate record with an aggregate score of 6,287 in smallbore and air rifle, breaking the previous record -- also owned by UAF -- by two points.

Freshman Jamie Beyerle, 18, of Lebanon, Pa., won air rifle with a score of 395 out of a possible 400. Senior teammate Per Sandberg, 23, from Uppsala, Sweden, came in second, one point behind Beyerle.

The NCAA team championship was UAF's fifth straight. And Dubis expects the team to win again in 2004.

"I am absolutely stacked with talent," he said.

The most recent addition is Matt Rawlings of Wharton, Texas, the top high school boy in the nation.

As Emmons, Beyerle and Sandberg zipped and buckled themselves into their canvas and leather shooting suits, they talked about what it takes to be the nation's real top guns.

Raw talent and hours of practice every day at the university firing range only do so much. Rifle is a contest requiring nerves of steel, or at least techniques to calm a pounding heart and slow breathing so the shooter can "hold the center" while squeezing off a shot.

In smallbore, a .22-caliber rifle is fired at a target 50 feet away measuring approximately 1.4 inches. To get a perfect shot, the bullet must hit the center measuring .008 inches.

In air rifle, the shooter fires a pellet at a 1.2-inch target 33 feet away. The center ring measures .02 inches.

"You have to have the mental game. You have to be able to slow your nerves and control your heart rate and shoot through that," said Beyerle, who was one of the nation's top high school recruits in 2002 after winning the U.S. National Championship and getting a silver medal at the Junior World Shooting Championships.

The three agreed that confidence is important to winning.

"If you are confident, and if you know you're good, you are going to make that shot," Sandberg said.

When Beyerle accuses him of being cocky, he shrugs.

"Big shooters have pretty big egos," he said.

This summer, Emmons and Beyerle will compete in several World Cup matches, including those in Zagreb, Croatia; Munich, Germany; and Seoul, Korea. Emmons also will train this summer at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., in hopes of going to the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Beyerle has her sights set on the Olympics, too.


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May 5, 2003, 08:21 PM
Did this school ever get their accreditation back?


May 6, 2003, 12:37 AM
The two best rifle teams in the nation are the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and West Virginia University. They are the only teams in the country to give each other any serious competition. They have traded national championships back and forth with each other over the years.

May 6, 2003, 12:53 AM
"Arguably, I'm the best all-around rifle shooter in the world right now," Emmons said, when asked to size up his talent

"I am absolutely stacked with talent," he said

Sounds like the guy's full of himself. If he were to get in a car accident and lose his right arm, I'd laugh. I hate arrogant people. </hypocricy>

May 6, 2003, 04:51 AM
If the Texans don't simmer down Alaska will divide itself in half. So be careful cowboys.

Plus, Don't badmouth a school where you can fulfill your PE requirement with pistol shooting.

May 6, 2003, 08:08 AM
Yohan -

I doubt that the kid is arrogant. After all, he pretty much has empirical proof that what he says is the case. As Will Sonnet used to say, <Walter Brennan voice>"No brag, just fact."</Walter Brennan voice>.

If you spend any time around elete level athletes, that level of confidence is pretty prevalent. I'm sorry to hear that you would be amused by the misfortune of someone who can represent a segment of our chosen sport so well. :mad:

May 6, 2003, 09:53 AM
All - I just joined after spending time elsewhere after TFL closed.

I wanted to tell you all that WVU has recently (last week) decided to drop NCAA rifle from its sports program. Reason given was budget cuts.

Drop the not-so-good folks at WVU a line to let them know your displeasure, especially if an Alumni.


Steve Smith
May 6, 2003, 10:29 AM
Yohan, first of all, the "stacked with talent" comment was from the coach, Dubis, not Emmons.

In addition, if a man can back it up, he's welcome to say whatever he wants. FWIW, I'm getting to be an absolute hammer at 600 and I can back that up. Enough that I can test a 600 yard load from prone position with open sights. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that.

I do notice that this fellow has a lot of 50 meter and shorter stuff going on. Hard to coonsider that "all-around." I'm sure he'd catch on fast, but he needs to shoot at 600-1000 yards AND beat Tubb to start calling himself the best all-around.

happy old sailor
May 6, 2003, 01:25 PM
take note of the size of the center hit. even in misprint, that is still very small offhand, no scope, fifty straight ! ! ! give the lad his due, he can shoot.

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