Zijun ‘Vector’ Zhang is an 18-year-old international student in Richfield MN. Born in Fujian Provence of China, Vector first joined the League during the 2015-2016 school year, and under the tutelage of Head Coach Bob Brotzel, went from shooting an 11 his first time out to being in the top 100 athletes out of the over 10,000 students that took part in the spring season.
The senior is now in his last year at Academy of Holy Angels school, and spoke with us about his success in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League.
How did you learn about the League?
“I got the school bulletin in the email, and it mentioned that there was this trapshooting team and that you could actually shoot stuff. In China we’re not allowed to own guns so I was interested and decided to give it a try. My host father had taken me handgun shooting before but the trap team was my first time with a shotgun.”
How did your first time go?
“My first time was with my coach’s daughter’s shotgun. It was an over-and-under Beretta. I couldn’t even pull the trigger because I was kind of afraid and my hands were shaking. To me it was very big and powerful so I was nervous. I shot an 11 that first time.
What did your family in China say when they heard you were shooting?
“When I decided that I wanted to do this I called my parents in China to ask for money to get a shotgun, and my mom was like “You’re not doing this” but my dad said “Ok, if it’s really safe then go ahead and do it” and he sent me funds to help me get a trap gun. My mom just kind of accepted that she couldn’t do anything about it because I’m over here and she’s over there (laughing). My dad told my grandma and she just shook her head. ”
You went from having no experience to having a very successful first season…
“Yes, I was actually kinda surprised that I could well in this sport in just my first year. My parents were also really surprised and impressed that I could shoot a shotgun pretty well. My mom is feeling totally fine now and my dad is really proud.”
What do you like most about being on the team?
“I love the people I’m around. People are nice, people respect each other and we take care of each other. When there’s a problem we try to fix it together. The people are great. ”
What other activities are you in at school?
Right now I’m in theater and on the math team. I’m not very good at it though, you often hear that Chinese are better at math than Americans – that’s a lie (laughs). I’m also in knowledge bowl and play some piano. I’m also part of the Campus Ministry Team which we do service projects and other things. I’m part of the international students mentoring group because I speak both languages and can help
What advice would you give to other shooters?
Put your face on your gun stock! At the beginning I kept bruising myself because I wasn’t holding the gun tight enough. It was distracting and it didn’t feel good. And trust your coaches.