Rifle: Getting to Know Meelis Kiisk
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Freshman year can be a confusing time for any college student, especially the first semester. There’s the new setting, the new classes, the new social circle; combined, it can all be a bit daunting.
Mountaineer Meelis Kiisk would have been forgiven if his head was still spinning. A rookie on the No. 3-ranked WVU rifle team(5-0, 3-0 GARC) and a native of Paide, Estonia, Kiisk has been asked to adjust to a lot throughout his first four months in Morgantown. Luckily, the impressively calm and collected shooter has taken all of the change in stride.
Kiisk, a member of the Estonian National Team, enters this weekend’s home match against No. 5 Ole Miss – the Mountaineers’ sixth contest of the season and last before a two-month winter break – with a 573.8 smallbore season average and a 583.6 air rifle average.
Shannon McNamara: Let’s talk about your first year at West Virginia. Can you describe this semester?
Meelis Kiisk: It’s been real interesting. Before I came here, I thought I knew a lot about shooting, but after being here for a few months, I know so much more and have gained so much more wisdom about shooting.
I knew that shooting was very technical before, and I knew about all of the positions, but now I can think more ahead about the position changes and how they will affect me.
SM: Is this new knowledge a benefit of being able to come into the range five days a week for practice?
MK: I practiced almost every day before back home. Now, it’s more about the people in the range with me. Back home, I didn’t have a coach. I worked alone, basically.
Petra (Zublasing) and (coach) Jon (Hammond) have been the most help so far this year. Sometimes, though, four or five of us will gather around and discuss the best technique to use. Everyone has an opinion; it’s awesome. It’s incredible, working with a lot of people that love to shoot.
SM: Was working with a coach a difficult adjustment?
MK: No, not at all. I’m really flexible and open to change. That makes it easier for the coach, as well.
SM: You brought a lot of international shooting experience with you to WVU. Now that you have about two months of collegiate shooting under your belt, how would you compare the two venues?
MK: It’s definitely new for me to shoot both guns on the same day. I think the first time I did that was here at West Virginia. I’ve been shooting for a little over eight years now, but I had never shot both guns in the same day.
I’m pretty sure that my international experience helps me mentally, but mostly here it’s all about teamwork. It’s been a really good experience for me.
SM: Do you find the matches to be any more taxing now that you are shooting both guns in one day?
MK: It’s just something you have to get used to. Before, I used to shoot 3 P, so physically and mentally I was prepared for it.
SM: Your strength is in smallbore, but you have been working on your air gun on a daily basis. How has that been going?
MK: I’ve been working on air gun a lot the last couple of months. I didn’t enjoy it before I came here, but it’s become more enjoyable since I arrived at WVU. I think it’s a good thing.
It (shooting air gun) didn’t feel natural. Petra and Jon have helped me make a couple of changes, and I feel good when I’m shooting standing now. Those are good helpers, too. You have to enjoy what you’re doing, otherwise you don’t get anywhere.
SM: Are you adjusting to life in Morgantown?
MK: Yeah. Adjusting has been easy for me because I’m here with my wife, Kristina. She was in the states before for three years, so she knows her way around. That’s made it a lot easier for me to adjust to school, practice and time management.
I really like Morgantown. I thought it was going to be a bit crazier because I come from a small town with a population of about 9,000 people. It’s a little bigger, but I like it. It’s not too big for me.
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