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On December 15, 2018, the University of Nevada Reno’s rifle team received some devastating news, after the 2018-2019 season, the program would be discontinued. The entire team was stunned and heartbroken by this unexpected announcement — made during the middle of final exams — as there was no prior indication that terminating the program was even being considered.
The University claims that the reason the team is being discontinued is to align with the Mountain West Conference in order to secure sponsorship for its other sports. The sport to replace rifle at our school is Mens Cross Country, the school claims that this is 1)because cross country cost less than rifle, 2) it will be a dedicated mens team, 3) it is part of the MWC.
Rifle is not part of the MWC, it is part of the Patriot Rifle Conference and it is predominantly co-ed, other schools offer women only. There are only 23 division 1 NCAA rifle teams in the country, six of which are service academies. The University of Nevada Reno is one of two schools that offers a Division 1 rifle team that is west of the Rocky Mountains, the other school being the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The next closest D1 programs to the west are the University of Texas El Paso and Texas Christian University however these programs are women only.
As a rebuttal to the schools arguments against the program, there is documentation that the team is entirely self funded with the exception of travel cost. The total budget for the team is still less than any other sport at the University. Enough money was raised through fundraisers to build a new shooting facility. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddBvOppOZBI
The disbanding of the team will hurt all of the current athletes as they will be forced to make a decision to either continue shooting at another school or to continue attending UNR but without the opportunity to get substantial athletic scholarships- the driving force for many of them to shoot during college.
Discontinuing the program will have massive ramifications for all youth shooting programs in the U.S. especially in Hawaii as UNR’s rifle program is the only option to compete in the sport during college while being able to attend a major university in relative close proximity to the state. There are typically 10-15 students from Hawaii who apply for a spot on the UNR team roster every year. The lack of incentive to compete in the shooting sports (being able to shoot competitively and possibly earn a college scholarship) Hawaii could see a decline in the amount of youth who are interested in shooting.
Read more about the disbanding of the team here: