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Rifle Team Asks for Funding for Outdated Equipment

Dawson Hyatt addresses the school board

Daniel Prince

Rifle team continues its legacy of producing national champions

At Monday’s meeting of the Union County Board of School Trustees, Dr. Gail Wilson Awan, president and CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate, presented the school board a plaque honoring the district for its nearly 10 years of partnership. The Urban League does some of the district’s after school programs and has provided lunch during some of the district’s summer enrichment camps. Awan said the partnership is the largest and longest education program in which the league is involved.

Jane Taylor, coach of the Union County Stingers Rifle Team, presented to the board and asked for financial assistance for the team. She said the team in its current form has existed since the 1970s and was under the athletics program from that time until around 2005, when the program was more or less disbanded. The team regularly competes against not only high school shooters, but college shooters and even Olympians. Through the years, the program’s participants have earned 18 national championships, including five in the last two years. It has produced two NCAA Collegiate All-Americans and one US Shooting Team alternate for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Matches are held throughout the year, with the national championships held during the summer. They travel mostly out-of-state due to a lack of local opponents in the discipline. Taylor said the team has traveled to The Citadel, Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. The costs can be high, with a yearly recurring cost of $7952 per athlete. The group charges a one-time $25 orientation fee and dues of $15 a month, which she said only partially covers the cost of pellets. The group is currently using equipment that is 30-40 years old. Taylor said a 501c3 application is in its final stages, which would allow the group to seek grants to help offset some costs. They hold fundraisers throughout the year, most recently at the Union County Fair. She asked the board to consider helping the team.

Board member Mike Massey said the district needs to decide whether the rifle team can go back under athletics or will have to be recognized as a club, which he said would tie their hands some as far as how much they could help. He also raised a liability issue about the group using personal vehicles for traveling to the tournaments they attend. He said the district needs to be providing some transportation, and the schedule needs to be approved by the board. Board member Manning Jeter stated that the district needs to do some research before the board makes any decisions, but he was in favor of helping them.

One member of the current team, Dawson Hyatt, also addressed the board:

(audio below story)

We’ll have more information from the meeting in future newscasts.

Dawson Hyatt on his experiences with the rifle team
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