The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long and proud history of participation in shooting sports. From archery to rifle and pistol shooting, UNC has always been at the forefront.

This young woman is happily showing off her new bow in front of the bell tower (Hugh Morton Collection)

This young woman is happily showing off her new bow in front of the bell tower (Hugh Morton Collection)

A female archery team organized by the UNC Women’s Athletic Association existed from the 1940s to the early ‘60s. While it is uncertain whether the team competed with other schools or just within their own group, it is certain that they did compete. There is a trophy commemorating their accomplishments on display in the lobby of Woolen Gymnasium.

"Archers poised to kill" (yackety yack 1942)

"Archers poised to kill" (yackety yack 1942)

The history does not stop there; the Navy ROTC armory was founded in 1942 at UNC in an effort to increase the amount of naval officers available to our country during WWII. Shortly after its inception, an officer by the name of Chief Taylor organized the first rifle team to call UNC home.

the man in the far left is chief Taylor; he stands with the first nrotc rifle team. members were armed with target model Springfield 1903a3s. (march 1944 "catapult," the nrotc yearbook)

the man in the far left is chief Taylor; he stands with the first nrotc rifle team. members were armed with target model Springfield 1903a3s. (march 1944 "catapult," the nrotc yearbook)

An interest in rifles normally follows an interest in pistols. This is exactly what happened in the early ‘40s.

The first nrotc pistol team armed with navy issued 1911 single-action handguns. (march 1944 "catapult,", the nrotc yearbook)

The first nrotc pistol team armed with navy issued 1911 single-action handguns. (march 1944 "catapult,", the nrotc yearbook)

The two teams competed with twenty-six other teams in Navy sponsored competitions. Practice was held in the Armory basement, which was set up as an indoor range. While all cadets were trained in marksmanship, only the best were chosen to be members of these two teams.

a cadet practices his technique ("catapult" 1984)

a cadet practices his technique ("catapult" 1984)

Other than what can be pieced together from old yearbooks and scrapbooks, little information exists concerning either archery or rifle and pistol shooting. What is clear is that by the 1990s the teams were gone and so was the Armory’s indoor range.

We, the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club, continue the legacy of these three student groups. Founded in 2010 with the intention of spreading firearms knowledge and safety, we have grown into an organization with hundreds of members and several shooting events a year. THRPC is not an upstart child but instead, the story of a child claiming the legacy of their parents.

 

A big thank you to LT Phil Suchyta in the NROTC armory and the Hill Alumni Center for providing information and photographs!