MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - With the fall semester in the books, the West Virginia University rifle team is off to a tremendous start. Although the season is only half over, sophomore Garrett Spurgeon
is looking forward to his first break from competition in 11 months.
Spurgeon has been on the front lines of competition since January. After helping his team earn the 2013 NCAA Championship title, Spurgeon traveled over the summer to compete in air rifle and smallbore competitions. He then returned to Morgantown this semester to help the Mountaineers to a 6-0 record, including a 4-0 Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) showing.
“Garrett is getting better every match,” coach Jon Hammond said. “He’s very consistent, and is definitely one of our standouts.”
The Canton, Mo., native attributes his success this semester to his work ethic over the summer break.
“Training and shooting matches over the summer definitely helped,” Spurgeon said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, but a lot of the shooters take the summer off. Continuing competition helped me stay at the level I was at near the end of last semester and improve.”
Spurgeon’s travels included the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Munich World Cup in Munich, Germany, a week of training in Georgia, the USA National Championships and a visit to the Czech Republic. Placing first in smallbore and second in air rifle, Spurgeon was pleased with his showing at the USA National Championships in June.
However, coming back to WVU this semester was a challenge for Spurgeon.
“There are a lot of pressures and expectations from last year,” Spurgeon explained. “You have to put those in perspective. It’s a new year, and we’re going to have new challenges. Obviously everyone wants to repeat, but that’s practically unheard of.”
The reigning 2013 champions are setting goals on an individual basis and are well on their way to a successful season. Spurgeon says the team has come together more than before. The small, 10-person squad helps create a close knit, family-style operation, and team meetings are intimate enough to gain an understanding of everyone’s needs.
“Everyone is working on himself, which is great,” Hammond said. “The team environment has improved, and goals will come with time.”
“One of my main goals is consistency,” Spurgeon said. “After my first match this semester I felt like I did mediocre, and I set that as a benchmark. I don’t want to dip below that performance - that’s my main goal. If I can do that consistently, I will be very competitive.”
Although spirit and momentum are taking off for the team, Spurgeon acknowledges that everyone needs a break. He went home to Missouri last week for Thanksgiving break to spend time with his family and will be back in competition this weekend, along with five of his teammates, at the USA Shooting Winter Air Gun Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. Although it isn’t team competition, he says it will benefit him before he takes off for winter break.
Spurgeon sees the championship as another learning experience and competition to prepare him for what is to come. While he’s a standout for the Mountaineers, he stays humble and knows that it only gets more difficult from here.
“I always know I can do better,” Spurgeon said. “I always tell myself, ‘If I hadn’t done that, I could’ve had a higher score.’ There are always things to improve on.”
Spurgeon and the full WVU team will return to competition on January 19, 2014, against GARC foe NC State, at the WVU Rifle Range.