SIU Shooting Team plans exciting new collaboration with Colleges of Science, Medicine


Graduate student, Dakota Serviss, 29, of Chicago, aims his rifle downrange at the SIU Shooting Club’s gun range on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. Serviss says, “[The RSO’s focus is] to provide a safe, inclusive, and enjoyable recreational and competitive experience for college students who are interested in shooting sports.”

By Austin Phelps, Staff Reporter

SIU Shooting Team plans to collaborate with the Colleges of Science and Medicine to help medical students learn bullet retrievals by shooting dead pigs, Vice President of the team Helen Janis said.

The team will get some dead pigs from the farm, pigs that have either been euthanized due to old age or have just died from natural causes, and shoot them, Janis said.

“Then [we] give them to the medical students [and] let them do a bullet retrieval,” Janis said. “Pigs are often used in medical fields for training the students because the flesh texture is very similar to human flesh.”


Janis said this type of training gives students a hands-on experience before they get to their careers.

“We are going to use a couple of different calibers, hopefully do this with two or three pigs, they can see the damage the different calibers do especially internally,” Janis said. “They might have a general idea of the caliber and stuff and they already know what to start looking for.”

Janis said before joining the team she had no previous experience with guns.

“One of the first things that I learned coming right on was just the basic protocols of how to handle the weapons,” Janis said. “How to make sure everything is emptied, discharged, just basic safety.”

The thought of living on her own as a young 20-something year old woman, Janis said, was an aspect of her owning a firearm.

“I wouldn’t necessarily have neighbors around,” Janis said. “There’s also multiple studies that show if you scream for help, help doesn’t always come, so having a firearm was an element of protection there.”

Janis said the team is also looking to work with a forensics class next semester to do blood splatter analysis.


“With some synthetic blood, some bullet analysis using ballistics gel, bullet retrieval, stuff like that,” Janis said. “So we’re definitely also trying to make this as educational as possible and let it overlap into the other colleges.”

Any student, faculty member, or alumni can join the team, Dakota Serviss, president of the SIU Shooting Team, said.

“It really just gives people a chance who really don’t have an opportunity to get out and shoot with us in a safe and constructive setting once a week,” Serviss said. “We do rifle and pistol and trap shooting.”

Serviss said the SIU Shooting Team can be considered a sport, but it offers something different for everyone.

It is important to have something for everyone on campus, though most people might not relate firearm ownership with college students, Serviss said. His parents weren’t thrilled when he first bought a firearm.

“[Then there’s] someone like Greg who’s been shooting since he can walk, it seems like. It brings those two different viewpoints together and creates this inclusive environment,” Serviss said.

Greg Faust, range safety officer of the SIU Shooting Team, said he first wanted to own a gun for hunting purposes. Now he enjoys the competitive aspect of it also.

“I mean there’s not always a purpose behind everything besides just enjoyment,” Faust said. “You can go out have fun on the range for a day, have fun with with a couple of guys, go home, and enjoy yourself.“

Jonathan Harb, treasurer of the SIU Shooting Team, said he never shot a firearm until joining the team. He said the first firearm he shot was a 9mm pistol and it felt good because it came with a lot of responsibility.

“I never really owned a gun, but today I own three guns,” Harb said. “I own a pistol, a shotgun and a rifle.”

Janis said people have accused the team of promoting violence. She said the club does the opposite of that.

“The first thing drilled into us over and over again is gun safety, [and] responsible handling,” Janis said.

Serviss said the team is open to everyone regardless of experience level.

“If you don’t really grow up in that culture, if your parents don’t take you out shooting, [then] it’s pretty foreign to you,” Serviss said.

There are many levels of engagement in the team, and they try to find a comfortable medium between being casual and recreational then adding kind of a competitive element to it, Serviss said.

“A little bit of something for everyone with the common denominator being a firearm,” Serviss said.

Serviss said he has reached out to other RSOs on campus and others who don’t see the need or interest in the team, in an attempt to try and diversify the team.

“I mean the narrative is there because that’s what people see,” Serviss said. “[In] the store I work at we deal with that too. People, they have this idea of what a gun owner is, and it usually is a republican white male and that’s simply not true.”

Serviss said they have brought people out who have not come back for one reason or another.

“I feel that it is in the back of their mind that this is kind of like that white boy group,” Serviss said. “It sucks and it’s something we have to deal with.”

A lot of people don’t know where to look for information on firearms and safety, Janis said. The team offers an area where they can come and learn if they want they can get involved.

“They can start learning safety, they can start the process to get their own firearm. If they’re just coming to find out what is this all about, what is all the hype about, then we at least provide them a basis where they can actually look in and see what exactly the gun-holder community is,” Janis said.

The team has practices every Sunday and they alternate between trap shooting with shotguns one week, and rifle and pistol practice the next week.

Staff reporter Austin Phelps can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @austinphelps96.

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