Numbers increase for Plum rifle program
The Plum rifle team members began winter-season practices on Friday, and head coach Scott Kolar said momentum leading up to the beginning of the season was fueled by an increase in those interested in the sport.
Kolar said 79 students came to an informational meeting last month, and close to 70 attended open ranges before official practice and tryouts began.
At least 50 tried out for the team starting on Friday, and for the first time, a separate 20-shooter junior varsity team has been created in addition to the traditional varsity roster of 20 to 25 shooters.
“I don't know if any other sport is growing the way we are,” Kolar said.
“The interest is there and there is more opportunity for kids to participate. The veterans are working one-on-one with the new shooters. Talking the new shooter through a process, the veteran shooter also is learning. It's like teaching. The more you teach, the more you learn about it. They are gaining a lot of valuable leadership experience. The new and veteran shooters are building that rapport.”
With the JV team, Kolar said, more students can be on a team and get experience, whether it's in competition or in practice.
Two new coaches — Terry Speer and Dwight Locke — were hired to coach the JV team, Kolar said.
Speer returns to the program after formerly serving two years with Kolar as a varsity assistant. Locke works in security at Plum High School.
Kolar said that as the student shooters are doing great things on the range, the members of the booster club are doing great things to help the program succeed.
A raffle to raise money for the program is under way, and there is an opportunity for someone to win a matched set of four Winchester model 70 Supergrade rifles.
The set is valued at $7,000, and tickets are $10 each or three for $20.
The winner doesn't need to be present to win, and tickets can be purchased by calling Joseph Klonowski at 412-523-0628.
The Plum rifle program is participating in the national Scholastic Shooting Trust, established by Brenda and Larry Potterfield.
Larry Potterfield is the founder and CEO of MidwayUSA, a large shooting- supply company based in Columbia, Mo.
Plum, like many other school programs and organizations, can put money into an account, and the Potterfields will match the deposits at a 3 to 1 ratio.
The money raised by the Plum raffle will be placed into the account, and it will be matched three times over.
There is a way to donate to the Plum program at scholasticshootingtrust.org. On the website's main page, click on “Find A School” and follow the prompts.
On the school detail page, there is a “Donate To School” button that will allow anyone to give to the cause.
The Plum boosters will be able to withdraw 5 percent from that account once a year forever, Kolar said.
“It's a great way to support the Plum rifle team as it continues to grow,” Kolar said.
“It helps better equip the team and relieve the burden on the school districts as the budgets get tighter and tighter.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.