Right on Target
National Guard, he competed on the University of Oklahoma rifle team. At SMSU, he said he's taught marksmanship and firearms safety to several hundred students over the years.
Since SMSU doesn't offer scholarships for shooting, Self and Dr. Jon Wiggins, a technology professor in the agricultural department who coaches the trap and skeet team, build teams by recruiting freshmen from monthly firearms safety seminars. The seminars are open to the student body, and average attendance is about 200. Teams are composed of between 18 and 30 students.
"Anyone on campus can come to the seminars to learn about firearms and marksmanship fundamentals," Self said. "There are always standout performers in the marksmanship classes, and we encourage them to participate in team activities."
Like any sport, shooting requires commitment, discipline and practice. Shooters must practice two to three hours per week.
"Some of the really good ones train five to eight hours per week," Self said, "and they fire 1,000 to 1,500 rounds per week in controlled marksmanship exercises. We have quite a few walk-ons, but we require everybody to attend a presentation on safety and basic skills of marksmanship. And, of course, we supervise them on the line."
Due partly to its affiliation with the National Rifle Association's Civilian Marksmanship Program, the SMSU program emphasizes firearms safety. Team members are all business on the range, and each shooter keeps close watch on the others for any sign of carelessness. Self pointed out that there has never been an accident in collegiate shooting.
Self said students gravitate toward the sport for different reasons. For example, Chris Malotte of Springfield, the captain of the pistol shooting team, had never touched a firearm before joining the shooting program. There were no hunters or shooters in his family so, if anything, he was somewhat biased against firearms until he met Dr. Self.
"I took Dr. Self's geography class, and I got really interested in his stories about his military experiences," Malotte said. "He encouraged me to attend one of the orientation seminars, and afterwards I came out here and just fell in love with competitive shooting."
"All through high school I played football, basketball, tennis and wrestling, but I never found anything as fulfilling as competitive collegiate shooting," Malotte added. "In football, you can miss practices here and there and still perform at an adequate level. In pistol marksmanship, you have to train constantly