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Turning Clay Targets to Dust: Abel Thrives in School and Competitive Shooting at Grace

In “A Christmas Story,” the young protagonist faces parental caution with the famous words, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” However, for Ruth Abel, it was her father who initially sparked her interest in recreational shooting and the safe handling of firearms. She received her first gun in grade school and immediately began joining her father on hunting trips. Since then, Abel’s talent and work ethic have earned her much success as a pro student and shooter. 

Abel grew up hunting and casual shooting, but she did not discover the competitive shooting field until high school. “I went to a really small Christian high school, and someone volunteered to start a trapshooting club for the students,” said Abel. “I immediately joined the team to start shooting competitively.”

When it came time to look for a college, Abel made her way to a college fair in central Ohio. “Every summer, the Grace team goes to a college recruiting fair for shooting sports in Marengo, Ohio,” said Abel. “They set up a booth, and students get to walk around and meet all of the different colleges in the country that have a shooting sports team.”

When she saw that Grace, her father’s alma mater, offered a shooting team, Abel decided to pull the trigger.

Abel now helps lead the team as a graduate assistant recruiter and coach while pursuing her . Abel graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s in psychology and criminal justice and a minor in business administration.

During her two years of undergraduate studies through Grace’s accelerated track, Abel had no issues balancing a full-time student schedule with a competitive shooting schedule. “I would say it was not challenging at all. Our practices are after class,” said Abel. She also felt encouraged by her professors. “They love our sport and support us. They think it is a pretty sweet thing.”

The Christian community at Grace has also been one of Abel’s favorite parts of her college experience. In fact, she met her future husband and many of her friends through the shooting team. “While the shooting club is for all students, it’s a fantastic opportunity for freshmen to make new friends,” said Abel.

Adam Turner, co-coach of the Grace Shooting Club, also discussed the group’s uniqueness. “For a lot of these people, the shooting team is their community at Grace,” explained Turner. “Whether that is shooting or getting dinner together at Alpha Dining Hall.” 

Another aspect of the community is the shooting itself. “You can shoot for a lifetime,” said Paul Blair, the team’s other coach. “Coach Turner and I still shoot competitively. It’s a sport that brings many generations together. I know Ruth has built skills and memories that will last a lifetime.”

Being on the shooting team has also opened up the door for Abel to serve on the board for the for the state of Indiana. “I met a guy who was on the board but had plans to retire and step down,” explained Abel. “Through my involvement with the Grace team, he offered for me to take over for him. Grace prepared me for this opportunity.”

As Abel’s experience at Grace comes to a close, she reflects on how Grace has prepared her as a leader. Not only has Abel served as a team captain, but she also functions as the student recruiter for the team. In full-circle fashion, Abel now goes to the college fairs herself to recruit future team members for the pro Shooting Team. 

In addition, Grace and the shooting club have helped Abel grow in her faith. Blair emphasized the importance of shining for Jesus on the shooting range. 

“When our teams go to a competition, they are competing against schools from all makes,” said Blair. “These include large, small, secular, private, religious, and Division 1 NCAA schools.” 

Blair loves hearing the other coaches marvel over Grace’s patient, calm, and respectful shooters. Turner agreed, “As coaches, we enjoy seeing the students mature and grow as leaders from when they enter Grace until they leave.” 

Abel’s experience has been just this. “I have been transformed through the shooting program at Grace, and now, I have my sights set on the exciting future God has for me.”

If you are interested in joining a club in college and building connections through shared interests and hobbies, learn more about the clubs available at Grace.

Tagged With: Campus Life, Student Stories