By ROB W. ANDERSON
A new Northeastern State University student organization has created an outlet for students to relieve tension, socialize with other like-minded people on campus and receive training on skills only applicable on the shooting range.
Noble freshman Devon Beurie spent four years in high school competing in shooting sports and established the NSU marksmanship club, which has been in existence for about a month now.
“I’m the president of Riverhawk Shooting Sports. It’s the newest campus organization, and we’re promoting recreational shooting sports,” she said. “We’re making safety a paramount focus. [The club] covers everything from archery to skeet shooting - whatever the students are most interested in.”
Beurie’s club aims to lend students, as well as faculty and staff, a source for entertaining their enthusiasm of firearms, a way to learn new marksmanship skills and concepts, provide another social avenue and participation in firearm safety and education.
Beurie said interested parties pay an annual membership fee of $40 and undergo a background check and safety training classes provided by the NSU Campus Police Department.
“We’re big on education and making sure that people are safe around guns, and that they know proper etiquette when handling firearms,” she said. “We require a background check to participate, and that’s processed through the campus police station.”
Beurie grew up in a pro-gun ownership home, where target practice was not only a group activity, but a favorite pastime.
“Moving three hours away from the luxuries of a rural home, I really miss being able to spend time with family and friends target practicing,” she said. “A large percentage of the people I have met here at NSU have at least some interest in guns, and I think this makes for a foundation to connect people.”
Beurie not only wants to get gun enthusiasts together, but establish a group that will travel and compete against other college and university marksmanship clubs. The NSU Riverhawk Shootings Sports Club will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for an April 3 marksmanship clinic and competition against the University of Arkansas’ student organization marksmanship club.
“I have a huge vision for this organization,” she said. “I want to get it to a competitive standpoint, where we are traveling to national competitions, but yet provide a recreational and competitive side for the students. We’re taking baby steps, but we’re gaining community involvement. That opens up opportunities for financial support, as well as incoming members.”
The Riverhawk Shooting Sports Club also needs venues to hold events, and Beurie has established agreements with the Tahlequah Blackfox-Hartness American Legion Post 135 site and the Heart O’ the Hills Salvation Army Camp near Welling.
“As far as sites to practice, it will depend on what type of gun is being used,” she said. “Notification will be sent out. I plan on staying [in Tahlequah] over the summer to acquire as many options or resources as possible within a reasonable distance for club access.”
Beurie said though the club is for NSU faculty, staff and students, Riverhawk Shooting Sports would like to have the community’s support.
“The community can become involved through connecting us with resources for facilities, financial opportunities, instructors, volunteer/community service opportunities and information on surrounding events that would pertain to club interest. Really, anything that could benefit the club,” she said.
“We want the community’s support.”