Georgia Southern will add women's rifle as its 16th intercollegiate program beginning in the 2013-14 season, Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein announced today.
A total of 34 NCAA schools sponsor rifle, including a combination of coed, men's and women's teams, and 22 compete at the Division I level. Eight schools compete in Division I women's rifle, and 13 compete in mixed rifle. The NCAA scholarship limit for Division I is 3.6.
Kleinlein also announced that Master Sgt. Tim Parks will serve as the program's first coach. The Eagles will use the shooting range behind the Recreation Activity Center on Register Road as their home facility until the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center, slated to open in the fall of 2014, is completed.
"The strength of the Georgia Southern ROTC program and its relationship with Eagle athletics coupled with the plans for an on-campus, state-of-the-art shooting facility makes women's rifle a perfect addition to our lineup of intercollegiate sports," Kleinlein said. "As with all of our athletics programs, we expect to be competitive on a yearly basis."
The Shooting Sports Education Center will be 20,000-25,000 square feet, designed to allow for future expansion and will include both indoor archery and firing ranges and outdoor archery ranges. The proposed site is next to the Recreation Activity Center and M.C. Anderson Recreation Park on Georgia Southern's main campus.
Georgia Southern will conduct tryouts from 3-6 p.m. May 1 at the shooting range. Students must bring a copy of a physical within the last six months signed by a physician and proof of medical insurance to try out. For more information, email Senior Woman Administrator Cathy Beene via email at email@example.com.
"The addition of a women's rifle program and added athletic scholarship opportunities for female student-athletes is a positive effect of our decision to move up to FBS," Kleinlein said. "Starting a women's rifle program fulfills an NCAA requirement of sponsoring 16 varsity programs in order to compete at the FBS level."
Georgia Southern will compete in the Air Rifle discipline to start. Air Rifle uses a 0.177-caliber pellet, and shooters are 10 meters from the target. For women, the shooter gets 40 targets and one shot per target. Each shot scores from 1-10, and a perfect score is 600. The total time limit to complete the targets is one hour, 15 minutes. Each team declares five shooters before the match, and four scores count towards the overall team score.
Other Division I women's rifle programs in the Southeast include The Citadel, Alabama-Birmingham and Ole Miss. Mixed rifle programs in the region include Wofford, North Carolina State and Kentucky. West Virginia won the national championship in 2013, its 15th title.