The UCD Rifle club is set to celebrate their 25 year anniversary as a club this year, sale as Jack Power discovered. As one of the lesser know of UCD’s vast and expansive range of teams and clubs, the rifle club is in fact one of the colleges most unique and interesting teams. In celebrating their anniversary this year they aim to only move forward and improve on recent strives the club has made.
The rifle club started out from very humble beginnings in 1989. The old rifle range was in the back of the old student centre. It was essentially a pop-up target range, which through painstaking dedication had to be assembled and taken down with each training session. The Rifle Club has come along way since then. It now boasts Ireland’s only Olympic standard 10-meter rifle range, hidden underground near the sports centre. It is fully up to date, with 14 advanced electronic targets. The club own 13 Olympic quality air-rifles (which is the club’s main rifle), and in addition 3 air-pistols for the more advanced marksman. The gear provided is also Olympic quality standard, in a statement of intent to how high-tech and equipped the club has become. The club has been rewarded for its hard work over the years with investment from UCD with the goal to develop it as a top sporting facility.
The club has over two hundred members, and a strong core of active members of alumni, undergraduates and staff, with new members joining each week. It is the largest college rifle club in Ireland. Membership is diverse, with a range of Irish and international students, Freshers and older students taking part. The club has also positively seen a recent rise in participation from women, in a traditionally male dominated club. The teams however, are generally equally split; as many girls prove to be more than accurate. The Rifle Club’s new range has a distinct homely and unique feel. It is located underground; which merely adds to the sense of originality and character of the range. The club provides a key social outlet for its member as well; its long opening hours are flexible to any student, to practise or hang out. And it often holds social outings; from shotgun shooting, fun-shoots to paintball, or to the Clubhouse bar. Rifle and other shooting sports are prescribed by many to a niche category, but an increasing college uptake could see the sport grow nationally.
The Rifle Club competes in regular competitions, including nationals and inter-varsities. This past weekend, the UCD rifle club was travelling to an international competition in Cardiff, Wales. However the National Air Gun championships are the climax of the club’s season, held in April, in UCD. It is open to the top clubs and colleges, prominent contenders are mainly Wilkinstown Shooting Club in Meath, UCD and the Trinity team (DURC). UCD took gold in the Mens Pistol finals, and third in the Mens Air Rifle. The UCD ladies shone out as well, taking bronze and silver in the finals. There was also a good showing throughout the A, B, C and D classes; with UCD shooters all on the mark.
However the single most contentious competition is no doubt the UCD and Trinity ‘Colours game’. In recent years UCD have dominated proceedings, winning four out of the last five meetings. This February UCD will look to make it three consecutive wins over their rivals. The Colours game is played in a neutral venue each year, in the interests of fairness. The ‘Perpetual Shield’ is the victor’s prize, and it now rests in UCD. Trinity dominates the early inscriptions, but UCD have changed the tide in recent years. Trinity and UCD also battle it out in the overall Inter-Varsity college championship. As with many of the college teams the ‘Colours’ game is the most competitive and anticipated match-up of the season, and the Rifle Club is no different. The recent parity in skill has lead to an ever-increasing quality of shoot-outs, and only heightened the stakes for the losers, and the elation for the winners.
The UCD Rifle Club will look to go from strength to strength in the future. The recent investment in the range and equipment, along with the uptake in more new members has given it the means to push on and develop. In celebrating the clubs 25 year anniversary, the club will hold several commemorative events over the year. It is a testament to how far the club has come, to consolidate itself as a permanent club in UCD, and how they will look to go on and fire forward for the next 25 years.
Students or staff with interest in joining the Rifle Club are always welcomed, and the contacts and details to get involved can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ucdrifle. Acknowledgments to Tim Kennedy of the Rifle Club.