Missouri Shooter is One of the Best College Shooters in the Nation

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COLUMBIA - You've seen plenty of stories about Mizzou football and basketball. But in this week's edition of Blumberg Off the Bench, a Missouri shooter is hitting the target on the range and in life.

Mizzou's Ryan Mason has seen more sadness in his life than anyone should have to deal with.  But when needs to get away from his troubles, he goes into the woods to hunt, and it helped him become one of the best shooters in the nation.

When the shotgun hits, the target scatters into to pieces.

"I love the competition, and it's always been something that I've been very passionate about," Mason said.

Ryan Mason is one of the best college shooters in the country.

"I picked up the nickname Jock here in college my freshman year," Mason explained.

Jock knows a lot about putting the pieces back together. He had to do it at the National Championships last month.

"My gun broke the first day I was down there. I had to put two different guns together just to be able to compete," Mason said.

And with his piece-meal gun, Mason made the All-American shotgun team, and finished as the National Champion in the combined trap events, beating out a field of 330 people.

"That is a huge accomplishment. An amazing accomplishment to have an All-American here," Missouri shooter Chad Meier said.

"I went down there thinking I was going to have a good time, and I know I've grown as a shooter over the last couple years, and I've gotten better every year, made milestones, but I didn't think I would get to All-American or a national title," Mason said.

Mason beat the odds and finished tied for sixth in the nation.

"I took the situation that I had and said I could either fall apart and wait for next year or I can pick up the pieces and find a new way to do it," Mason said.

Maybe Mason put the pieces together at Nationals because he's had to do it so many times in life.

"My mom died when I was in high school. My best friend, my cousin was killed, my uncle, my aunt. I may have gotten the short end of the deal as far as many people haven't lost as many people as I have, but it's just one of those things that if you let it bring you down you'll never move past it and grow as a person," Mason said.

Mason says the most painful loss was his college roommate Neil Rudd in December, 2007.

"He was killed coming back from Ft. Leonard Wood a little bit before Christmas after he stopped to help some people that had gotten into a car accident. He was hit by a car walking back to his truck," Mason said.

"Being one of his close recent friends, I don't know about dealing with something like that. I can't even relate to something like that," Meier said.

Mason dealt by connecting with Rudd's family.

"I always think about him. I talk to his parents on a regular basis and me and his dad go hunting all the time. I keep the card from his funeral in my vest when I shoot," Mason said.

The card sits next to his heart. It's tattered and torn, almost in pieces, but just like Mason, it's holding together.

"If you look at it for only the negatives, and you crumble under the pressure, you're not going to learn anything from it and you're not going to move forward and you're just going to harp on those things for the rest of your life. There's no point to doing that," Mason said.

Mason says he'll compete in the national competition next year, and after school he wants to work in the hunting and shooting industry. The Mizzou shooting team is a club sport.


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