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Story Last modified at 5:57 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chugiak High senior is a shooting star
Martin signs on with West Virginia University, to join rifle team

Alaska Star


Chugiak High senior Matt Martin is flanked by his parents, Tina and Bill Martin, at his home, while signing a national letter of intent to join the shooting team and attend college at West Virginia University. Martin was Chugiak's top riflery team member.
Star photo by Matt Tunseth

Matt Martin is shooting across the country.

The Chugiak High senior and dead-eye marksman recently signed on to attend West Virginia University, where he'll join the school's prestigious rifle program.

"I'm excited," Martin said during a National Letter of Intent signing at his parents' Eagle River home.

Martin was heavily recruited by the country's top shooting schools, to the point where college coaches were lining up to watch him shoot at national competitions.

"I have a picture of all the coaches sitting behind him at the last national match," said Martin's mom, Tina.

Martin narrowed his choices to the University of Kentucky (which beat WVU for the 2011 title) or the Air Force Academy. But after visiting the Morgantown campus and meeting his future teammates and coaches, Martin had no trouble deciding to become a Mountaineer.

"After I went to West Virginia it was pretty much easy after that," he said.

A key factor in his choice, he was, had nothing to do with shooting.

"They had the major I liked," said Martin, who plans to study industrial engineering with an eye on going to work for himself one day.

"I've always wanted to own my own business," he said.

But first things first, and at the top of Martin's list of priorities right now is recovering from knee surgery that's had him sidelined for nearly three months. He said the time away from shooting has been frustrating for someone who typically practices year-round.

"It's been nice to take a break, but I also want to get back to it," he said.

Martin is currently preparing to defend his Junior Olympics three-position air rifle national title in Ohio in June, then it's on to the U.S. Nationals in Georgia in July before he heads to school. He said he's anxious to get back to shooting because he knows it'll take a while to get back to full speed.

"I have to go back and hold my spot," he said.

Martin said he clicked with the coaching staff at West Virginia, where he'll be receiving most of his instruction over the next four years. But he's also a part of the U.S. National Team, and gets coaching when he's on the road with that squad.

And when he has time to return to Eagle River, his main coach – dad Bill – will be there to help guide him, too.

"When he's home I'll help out with whatever he needs help with," Bill said.

Martin's ultimate goal is to shoot in the Olympics, and the license plate on his white Dodge Ram reads "TMUSA."

"That's his future goal," Tina Martin said.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 11, 2011.