Explosive Interest in Sportsmen Club
Who knew guns could bring people together?
Tony Vorlicek ’11 and VJ Vesnaver ’11 were certainly on target when they formed the Colby Sportsmen Club in the spring of 2010. They have since discovered that friendships can be forged from gun smoke, spent shotgun shells and shattered clay pigeons.
“We saw there was a bunch of interest from other people on campus and someone had to take the initiative, so we went ahead,” Vorlicek said. The Sportsmen Club allows shooting enthusiasts to bond together in that magical moment when the safety clicks off and the shells start spraying. Members head out to a local outdoor shooting range in Sidney, ME called The Arnold Trail Gun Club, and sometimes to the Silverton Sporting Ranch in Canaan, ME.
The club has brought together sportsmen from all over campus. “I think there are people all over that we don’t even know shoot,” Vorlicek said. Vorlicek and Collin Jenkins’ 11 are co-presidents of the club and met only this year when they discovered their mutual love of this pump-action pastime. Jenkins has been shooting since his freshman year, and was involved with the Reserve Officer’s Training Core program at The University of Maine.
“I didn’t know Collin before this year really and now we shoot together,” Vorlicek said. “I think that’s definitely one of the biggest goals of the club, since there are so many random groups of people [on campus] that shoot. It’s nice to bring them together.”
Assistant Director of Security Jeff Coombs, an avid sportsman himself, advises the Sportsmen Club. Safety is of course the priority whenever firearms are involved and all gun owners must register their weapon with the Colby College Security Department and store it in the office’s secure safe. Vesnaver noted that simply visiting the office to pick up his gun has given him the chance to get to know the security officers in a different light.
“Every time I go down there to the locker the guys are talking about shooting, and they’re always really interested in what kind of gun you’ve got,” Vesnaver said. He added that having to go to the office to pick up his gun has caused him to run into many of the College’s other shooters.
Gun owners on campus are careful to follow the College policy regarding firearms. The policy allows shotguns and high-caliber rifles “to be used specifically for target or skeet shooting or for hunting (only with a valid Maine hunting license) during Maine’s hunting season” to be registered on campus.
Vorlicek stressed the responsibility that comes with the sport. “If you go shooting anywhere, the first thing they’re going to talk about is safety, and no one will be comfortable shooting with you if you don’t take it seriously,” he said. Safety is a hair-trigger issue for the members, and Vorlicek, Vesnaver and Jenkins all cited the hesitation they were met with when they first began to shoot locally.
“We proved pretty quickly that we weren’t out there to goof off,” Vesnaver said. “The guys at Arnold Trail were really welcoming once we made it clear we were taking this seriously.” The Arnold Trail Gun Club is currently building a new clubhouse, and the Sportsmen Club members are looking forward to having a place to hang out with other gun-slingers.
The local community has been very supportive of the Sportsmen Club, and The Arnold Trail Gun Club provided free memberships to the club this year. “They love to see young people out there,” Vorlicek said. The club also applied for a grant with the National Sports Shooting Foundation. “[They] were really good about cutting the club a check. They’re great about helping young clubs,” Vorlicek said.
As one would expect when any group of young sportsmen gets together, friendly competition ensues. “Trap and skeet shooting is by nature a competition,” Jenkins said. “We often play ‘horse’ at Silverton. One person will call a shot, a challenging shot, and if they make it the next guy’s got to hit it too.”
The club’s seniors have made their fair share of sawed-off memories this year. With explosive interest from underclassmen, the senior members are confident that their Saturday morning ritual of heading down to Security, camo-clad, for some double-barreled fun won’t go up in smoke.