From an Olympic gold medal to a letter from former President George H.W. Bush, a new display at West Virginia Universitys Visitors Resource Center aims at educating the public on the unique history of the WVU Rifle Team.

The exhibit, organized by members of the WVU Rifle Team, features rifles, targets, championship awards and other memorabilia from the past 90 years.

We were excited to get the opportunity to have a display at the Visitors Center,said WVU Rifle Club President Nicole Allaire.Through our research, we learned that one of the original missions of land-grant institutions was military training, and marksmanship was part of that training.

Some of the items in the display are from the Department of Military Science days, she noted, which administered the Rifle Team from its inception through 1976.

Included are a military rifle of the type used for cadet training and competition in the early part of the 1900s, a 1914 photo of the rifle team from the WVU yearbook and the target used in intercollegiate competition prior to 1975.

The Rifle Teams 13 national championships between 1983 and 1998 are also represented by autographed posters, championship awards and a .177-caliber, German-made air rifle.

Another highlight is the gold medal former coach Ed Etzel won in the smallbore prone event 20 years ago at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The Mountaineer Rifle Team has had a former or current team member in every Olympics since 1968.

Etzel was the WVU rifle coach when he competed in the 1984 Summer Games. His medal, along with a uniform and a presentation rifle given to him by Dieter Anshutz, the manufacturer of the rifle he used, are part of the display.

The involvement of women in competitive rifle is another aspect of the program that the display touches on. One photo shows the 1927 womens team that, according to theMonticola(WVUs old yearbook), finished fourth in the Intercollegiate Championship that year.

A 1989 congratulatory letter from former President Bush and a proclamation by former Gov. Gaston Caperton declaring March 30, 1992, WVU Rifle Team Day are indicative of the recognition the rifle team has brought to the University, said Coach Marsha Beasley, also WVU Rifle Club adviser.
p. WVUs Rifle Team has such a rich tradition. Its nice to have the opportunity to display part of the teams success,added Bobbie Godbey, a WVU Visitors Resource Center tour guide.

The Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For directions, call 304-293-3489.

The WVU Rifle Club is a student organization that was formed in 2003; the Rifle Team will be reinstated to NCAA status July 1.

For information on the WVU Rifle Club, visit the organizations Web site ( contact the club at P.O. Box 6444, Morgantown, WV 26506 -06444.