By Steve Felgenhauer
If the sport were football, Lindenwood’s reign on collegiate shotgun sports would be called a dynasty—10 consecutive championships.
This 17,000 student liberal-arts school owns the world of competitive collegiate shotgunning.
According to Jane Baum, Athletic Development Director for Lindenwood University, located in St. Charles, Missouri, “Collegiate Shotgun Sports now falls under the Student Life Sports and Competitive Programs (SLS). This is similar to other university’s club-sports programs.”
The difference at Lindenwood is the SLS teams are fully funded programs. The institution funds training, transportation, lodging, meals and entries for the 21 programs, comparable to football and basketball programs at major college programs.
The division of SLS and and current NCAA programs took place when Lindenwood applied for NCAA Division II status three years ago. Lindenwood’s unique grant and scholarship programs allow the coaching staff to assist the SLS student-athletes with the costs of tuition and room and board.
The Season Begins
At the helm of this shooting powerhouse is Coach Shawn Dulohery, an Olympic shotgun shooter with many titles under his belt.
The shooting season begins about a week before school starts.
“We kick off the season with what we call the Freshman 300,” said Dulohery.
Each shooter will shoot 300 birds over the course of two days in one or more of five shooting disciplines; American Trap, American Skeet, Olympic Trap, International Skeet and five-stand or Sporting Clays.
Basketball legend Bill Bradley once said, ”Becoming number one is easier than remaining number one.”
Coach Dulohery couldn’t agree more.
“Winning is a funny thing, the most important take-home point to winning is if you put forth your best effort and you don’t win, if it’s your personal best, it’s still a victory,” stated Dulohery
Being at the top breeds complacency, and Dulohery’s squad is no different.
“We were beaten in a few events we should not have lost, and there are some really good schools, like Texas A&M, knocking on our door. The events we are traditionally strong in, we are seeing the other schools coming on strong.”
If Dulohery can point at one brick which sets the tone for winning the national championship, it is International Skeet, which just happens to be the event Dulohery represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
“International Skeet is difficult to coach if you don’t have a good grasp of what is happening or how to correct a problem,” said Dulohery, who is one of very few coaches with the background and experience at the university level who possess this experience.
One major contributing factor of why the team is so successful is the ability to draw from Dulohery’s shooting experience.
“I’d like to think the shooters draw from my experience as a shooter. I am fortunate to be surrounded by others who are as passionate about the sport as myself, folks like Craig Hancock, father of back-to-back Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock, and a team of others. They might not be at the same skill-set as Craig, but they bring plenty of experience in competition both here in the U.S. and internationally.”
This team helps Dulohery concentrate on the task at hand—concentrating on areas which are lacking, like getting the word out about the school and their achievements.
So why haven’t you ever heard of Lindenwood?
“It doesn’t help when you have situations that give shooting in general a black eye like Aurora or Sandy Hook,” said Dulohery.
In light of the tragedies, Dulohery maintains the administration at Lindenwood is top notch. The board of directors, the president—everyone sees the importance of having a successful program. But, he admits more could be done.
“Would I like to see more, a pep rally celebrating the achievements of my athletes? You better believe I would,” stated Dulohery.
It is not happenstance that America’s top collegiate shooters flock to Lindenwood. With success comes recognition. The incoming students know who the best team in the nation is and who’s going to take care of them.
“I’ve only done a couple recruiting trips this year,” said Dulohery. “It’s kind of like Nebraska football during their reign of national championships. If you win a championship, the phone will be ringing off the hook. I have 100 kids, and I am responsible for every one of them. It’s difficult to make every kid feel special and even more so with shooting because egos are much more fragile with a co-ed sport.”
How Does A Shooter Get Started?
Dulohery recommends any program which gets kids started shooting at the youngest age possible, 4-H, FFA, Scholastic Clay Target Program or the AIM program, the youth program of the American Trap Association.
“Shooting is an expensive sport. Get as many rounds as possible downrange at an early stage. Some kids can’t afford to shoot more and I get that. I am looking for a shooter who possesses the three “Ds” dedication desire and devotion,” shared Dulohery.
The Lindenwood Lions will go for an unprecedented 11 consecutive championship next spring in San Antonio. Go Lions!
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