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Sandy Journal

Riverton Shooting Club among strongest in the state

Aug 29, 2017 04:50PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Head Coach Mike Stuart said they have around 30 students in the club, most of them students in the Riverton area. Pictured: (Bottom) Asst. Coach Trent Vandam, Kami Singleton, Jessica McBride, Emily Wolverton, Tyler Mathews, Josh Dansie, Asst. Coach Trent Dansie, Head Coach Mike Stuart. (Top left) Hayden Vandam. (Top right) Grayson Stuart. (Riverton Shooting Club)

By Jessica Parcell | [email protected]

There wasn’t much to be heard of a shooting team in Utah until six years ago when Riverton High School started one of the first clubs in the valley.

Mike Stuart, the club’s current supervisor, said it’s one of the fasted-growing sports nationwide, and Utah still had yet to become a part of it.

“It just kind of migrated in here and a guy by the name of Jon Zinnel started the team about six years ago when I was an assistant coach,” Stuart said.

Zinnel grew up in the Midwest, where the size of the sport and the teams are huge. Zinnel came to Utah and decided to plant some of his roots in the Beehive State.

When the team was going into its third year, Zinnel transferred to another area, and Stuart took over the responsibility of the team. Stuart said there are a handful of teams in the area, but theirs is the strongest.

“Ours is by far the most established,” Stuart said, “and so new ones are sprouting up that I’ve helped try to get started around the area.” 

Stuart said the kids have to bring their own shotgun, and most of the kids already know a little bit about shooting. The team is funded by an endowment account through MidwayUSA, which Stuart said grows every year through donations and fundraising efforts of their own.

Stuart said there are about 30 kids on the roster, and about 70 percent of the team is made up of students from the Riverton area. 

The club is for anyone junior high and high school age group. He said last year a 12-year-old student placed first in his age group at the U.S Open Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the team took a first-place team award. Stuart also said they were going to another national competition this year in Sparta, Illinois on Aug. 2 where he expected 3,000 kids to shoot.

“There’s only five of us going,” Stuart said.

He said they also have some high school lettering opportunities. Stuart said last year they had 13 kids that lettered in high school.

Tyler Mathews, a student at Riverton High School, has been the vice president of the club since the beginning of his junior year. He started his participation in the shooting club his sophomore year, 

He said when he first saw the flyer going around about a shooting club, it wasn’t something he expected could happen.

“See, that’s what I thought was crazy,” Mathews said. “I didn’t know that could be school approved as a club, I thought that would have to be its own thing, but it’s been really cool that you can even letter through it.”

Mathews said he had never shot much before he joined the club. He admitted that his first competition was not his most shining moment.

“The very first one I struggled at, I only shot a 46 out of 100,” Mathews said. “Now I’m hitting high 90s.”

Mathews said the team has won six trophies in the competitions they participated in and he has about 15 trophies himself. 

He said the team is hoping to hold a gun raffle to raise money for the club to help cover competition fees. Mathews said that while much of the funds help cover competition costs, no one on the team is fully funded.