Five years ago, Dalton Lamons was the first member of a new shooting program at Lyon College, a small liberal arts institution in Batesville, Arkansas, about 80 miles northeast of Little Rock.
“I was approached by the manager of our range in town and he asked if I’d be interested in joining,” Lamons says. “And I said I’d love to. I’d shot for three years in high school and really enjoyed it, and I wanted to do it at the collegiate level.”
Though the team’s membership has fluctuated between as many as 15 last year and five this year, the Lyon College shooting program has proven itself successful, winning or finishing within the top five in team regional and national events the last several years. This year, the college hired Lamons as the shooting program’s full-time coach, with the aim of recruiting more participants, bringing consistency to the team—and continuing to win.
One goal Lamons has squarely in his sights this year is succeeding in the new USA College Clay Target League. Lyon College was the first to join the new League, which allows colleges from throughout the country to compete virtually against each other, just as is done at the high school level.
“I want to be highly competitive in this new clay target league,” Lamons says. “I want to make a statement this first year, on top of doing really well at the competitions we’ve done well at before.”
Conferences in the League will be determined by team size, with a minimum of five members required to participate. Teams will take part in weekly events in September and October, with competition available in trap, skeet, sporting clays, and 5-stand.
Lamons found the League through social media and thought it would be a good way to create more consistent competition for his team.
“Until now we’ve only had two national tournaments and two regional tournaments with other colleges shooting each year so this gives us a few weeks of competition in a row and I think that will be good for our student athletes.”
Much of the team’s early success, Lamons says, has to do with the experience of its athletes. Most have shot trap at the high school level, and shooting sports in general are popular in the area, he says. But in recruiting new participants—something he hopes League participation will bolster—students of all experience levels are welcome.
“Basic gun safety is of course needed and then after that it’s just a will to be coached,” Lamons says. “We have three shotguns available for students to use, eye and ear protection, shell pouches, everything. So if a student comes to Lyon and discovers that there’s a shooting team and they want to learn, they are more than welcome to join the team.”
The college currently covers all team expenses at Lyon and scholarships are available for athletes. The team shoots every month of the year except December and January at Independence County Shooting Sports Range, which has five trap fields and three skeet fields.
The range is less than ve miles from the university. Founded in 1872, Lyon College is known for its medical and law tracks and its high rate of graduates—99 percent—either continuing to graduate programs or finding a job right out of school.
Lamons graduated last year with an English degree before accepting the coaching position.
“It’s a great place to get an education,” he says. “And I’ll keep this promise no matter how many student athletes we end up having on our team—if you come here to shoot, you will be shooting. Everyone competes.”For more information on Lyon College, go to lyon.edu. To learn more about the USA College Clay Target League, check out usacollegeclaytarget.com.