“You’re going to take your first shot today,” Sarah Trout tells the nine students gathered at the back of the gymnasium.

Before them are two racks of air rifles, and a shooting range and backdrop that were assembled at the beginning of class.

Trout issues two short whistle blasts signaling them to collect their rifles and enter the range then works her way down the line one at a time to check each student’s position and that they are loading correctly. After shooting a single pellet at the reactive target – which displays a bright orange mark where hit – she issues them five more to help sight their rifle correctly.

The recent class session marked the first day Trout’s students in Archery & Air Rifles used the air rifles, after spending the first several weeks working with bows.

“They learn basic archery skills for a regular compound bow, and then progress to using compound bows that have releases and sights,” says Trout. “They learn the terminology, the parts of the bow and maintenance.

“When it comes to air rifles, again, they learn the nomenclature, range set-up and steps for shooting success. The class is for basic knowledge of both activities.”

This is the first semester Trout has taught the class at Missouri Southern. She taught K-12 for a number of years and launched a youth archery program in Lamar. For the last several years, she has helped organize the annual Academy Sports and Outdoors Shootout, which is held in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, a competition which draws hundreds of students from fourth through 12th grades.

“Archery is a huge competitive activity in the Four States,” says Trout. “For it to just end when kids go to college is kind of sad. Right now, this is set up to be just an introductory class, but if it builds to be something bigger, I am certified to be a competitive archery coach.”

Autumn Hulderman, a senior psychology major, says she grew up hunting and fishing as well as shooting with a bow and was excited to learn a class would be offered at MSSU.

“It’s really great for people who haven’t had this kind of experience,” she says. “It’s such a great activity, whether you’re alone or with friends and family.”

Though it wasn’t her first experience using a bow, the introductory class is allowing her to hone particular skills.

“I never had the opportunity to shoot indoors … it was always outdoor shooting,” Hulderman says. “I’ve been able to focus on correct form, positioning and technique, and we’re really emphasizing safety.”