What I Have Learned From Joining The Clay Target Team

What I Have Learned From Joining The Clay Target Team

You don’t have to be a redneck to shoot.

As I stumbled into Norris Hall one September afternoon, I scanned around for anyone that looked like they were just as lost or confused as I was. Days earlier, I had given my email to a very energetic president of the Virginia Tech Clay Target team and awaited the first meeting. I had no idea what to expect, picturing people adorned with camouflage, southern accents as heavy as syrup, and people only described as “agrarian”. When I crammed myself into a hot welding room, some people spoke, words that only blurred together from the summer heat. On the first day of practice, I mounted my gun confidently, yet quizzically, and fired at the soaring bird. Bang! I shattered the first bird. With a stupid grin and overconfident attitude, I thought, “Well fuck, this is pretty fun", and proceeded to miss almost every bird after that.

I never imagined that I would join the shooting team. As a runner and swimmer for pretty much my entire life, I imagined myself pursuing that in college. I once trained and even dreamed of swimming competitively in college; now, the thought makes me nauseous. As a lover of change, I wanted a change of pace; I wanted to try something new, exciting, and even daunting. When I heard about the Clay Target team at Hokie Focus, my interest peaked and my thoughts quickened. I had been shooting pistols for 5 years and thought that it would be an EASY transition (boy was I wrong). As the end of my freshman year and the shooting season comes to a close, I can’t help but ponder how much I have changed in such a short time, how much has happened in such a short time, how much I have learned in such a short time. I can’t help but say that the team has made the largest impact on my college experience thus far.

You don’t have to be a redneck to shoot. People of all walks of life, class, age, gender, and ability can and do shoot, even a little Fashion major like me. Not only have I learned how to obviously shoot a shotgun (quite an improvement from my first practice), but also, I have learned how to be a part of something bigger than myself, a team for lack of a better word. I have never felt that with any other sport, any other club or organization, or any other extended group of people. I constantly felt that I was just an outsider in something, but never a cog, working collectively together. They have taught me how to encourage others and constructively help someone without bringing them down. They have taught me that everyone, man or woman, has the same capability and potential as anyone else.They have brought me into this quirky little family and taught me that family doesn’t have to be blood, truly. They have taught me to empathize, to be compassionate, to open myself up and really form a connection with someone. I came into college, never believing that this is where I would make life-long friends. I learned that everything I came to Tech thinking was bullshit. I was so closed minded to enjoying the college experience, really hesitant to be a part of any Kum Ba Yah moment. Now, I can’t picture it any other way, with my fucked up, crazy, little family.

Thanks guys.

Cover Image Credit: Rachel Kiser

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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College Students Are Highly Susceptible To JUUL Addictions And It's Not A Laughing Matter

I've watched many of my friends go from people who thought cigarettes and vapes were idiotic to people who fiend for JUUL pods when they run out.


Lately, on every social media platform, you can see videos of college students hitting a JUUL or memes about JUULs. It appears that many students go into college without any intentions of forming a nicotine addiction. However, that changes when friends and other people peer pressure you into trying one. Once that happens, you buy your own, and then you become a fiend. It is quite ridiculous, but that is what ends up happening. I have personally seen it happen to a lot of my friends, especially my guy friends who rush a fraternity.

During college, many people are looking to try new things and experiment, so they are open to more things.

So, this means while many never have any intention to attempt a JUUL, they do because everyone else is doing it and continuously ask them to try it. Also, in the beginning, after you hit a JUUL, you get a big head rush, you are on a high. After that, you chase that high and end up smoking a whole pod. I have watched many of my friends go from people who thought cigarettes and vapes were idiotic to people who fiend for JUUL pods when they run out.

It's ridiculous, I know.

I know getting addicted to JUULs may sound ridiculous, but it is just like any other addiction. Many people do not even know their family suffers from addiction until it is too late. I just discovered that there are some family members in my family tree that have suffered from addiction and I avoid anything that could potentially trigger that. So, people just end up chasing the "dragon" because they do not know they have any preexisting conditions.

It is what it is.

Yes, you should cut out the nicotine addiction, but it may not be easy. Since it is a combination of peer pressure and possible addiction in your family, it may take a while and a lot of discipline. However, that is what it is like for knocking any habit. For instance, it takes years for individuals who are addicted to cigarettes for them to quit.

Stress can also be a trigger, which is why you need to practice techniques that will lower your anxiety rather than giving in. It will be healthier and help you instead of just pushing the issues aside.

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