Behind the sharpshooting of senior Nicole Allaire, the West Virginia University Rifle Club captured the 2004 NRA National Club Team Championship following intercollegiate rifle sectional competition held across the United States.

The WVU rifle shooters compiled a score of 4,533 finishing 218 points ahead of Penn State in the smallbore event. In air rifle, the WVU club team defeated Clemson 1,495-1,464.

Allaire led the WVU club team with 1,176 in smallbore and 392 in air rifle. Both scores topped all club shooters nationwide earning Allaire the titles of NRA National Collegiate Club Smallbore Rifle Champion and National Collegiate Club Air Rifle Champion to go with the All-American honors she received earlier this year.

I am particularly proud that we were able to win a national team title this year,said Allaire, club team president.We faced many challenges just getting started. We first had to form a club and petition to become a recognized student organization. We had a very limited roster due to range restrictions. We had to raise all funds needed to compete, and we very much appreciate the ongoing support we received from people in West Virginia.

The club was formed after WVU dropped rifle as an NCAA team sport last year due to financial reasons. That decision was rescinded this past spring and the team reinstated for the coming year after the state Legislature earmarked partial funding for the team.

The team members deserve a lot of credit,said Marsha Beasley, WVU Rifle Club advisor.We were all so very discouraged after rifle was dropped from NCAA status. For these former team members to get organized, put together a schedule, raise needed funds and compete successfully was remarkable. It would have been much easier for them to quit, but they truly love the sport and wanted to compete.

Other team members contributing to WVU s club championship were Jon Hammond, Adam Somers and Eric Hensil. Hammond placed second in the smallbore event with a score of 1,151 while Hensil finished fifth in air rifle firing a 372. Allaire and Hammond will graduate in August. Hensil and Somers will return to WVU as members of the rifle team.

Twelve sectionals were held across the country in February with the WVU club team competing at Xavier University. The sectional matches are open to both NCAA and club teams. The NRA then compiles a ranking of all teams nationwide and names national champions in the club division as well as the NCAA division. WVU club team members learned they had won by regularly checking the NRA website and waiting for a posting of the club team results.

The club team title is the fifth for WVU . It captured four rifle club team championships between 1961 and 1976. The WVU rifle team has captured 13 NCAA titles over the years.