By Brian Bateman
A little more than four years ago, Hannah Black wasn’t sure of her college plans. She had a honed skill in air rifle, but not many recruiting offers.
Fast-forward to 2016, and the Richmond, Virginia product is halfway across the nation, helping TCU fight for another national title and maybe even join the Olympics.
Black and the Horned Frogs will compete in the NCAA rifle championships for the 10th consecutive season March 11-12 at the Robert A. Pinn Shooting Range in Akron, Ohio.
“I came to TCU for the rifle team,” Black said. “I didn’t know anything else about it.”
Black has excelled in smallbore shooting, a discipline she didn’t pick up until coming to TCU.
“In high school, I only had access to air rifle,” Black said. “I learned how to shoot in all three positions. It was an adventure, for sure, but it wasn’t too difficult or anything.”
The result of her hard work paid off. She was a second-team All-American in both air rifle and smallbore last year.
“I felt like she had the skill that would allow her to develop as a smallbore shooter. She’s the hardest worker on the team,” Coach Karen Monez said.
In fact, Black worked her schedule to add in a few more practices Monday, which was the last day allowed to train before the national championships.
Black shockingly wasn’t on many colleges’ recruiting radar in high school. The self-described late bloomer wasn’t signed during the fall recruiting period, and only found an offer from TCU in the spring.
“She really developed more in the spring,” Coach Monez said. “The first time I met her was in February of her senior year of high school at Olympic tryouts.”
Monez offered Black at that event, and now Black is hoping to lead TCU to another national title.
The Horned Frogs won national titles in 2010 and 2012, and also won the smallbore title in 2013.
Black’s involvement with shooting sports came when she was young.
“My dad had a midlife crisis,” she joked, “and wanted to get the whole family signed up for a course. They signed (Black and her brother) up, taught us gun safety … It turned out to be a competitive league.
“Before that I was dancing, doing girly stuff, but it was great because I could beat the boys.”
Her brother made good on his training, too. He is a sophomore shooter for Ohio State.
Black said she thought she might feel out of place at a school with “Christian” in its name, but quickly found it welcoming. She’s a member of TCU Hillel.
She might stay at TCU for graduate school, but added that she wants to combine her skills with whatever focus she follows.
“I definitely want to continue shooting.”
Black’s immediate goal is to win another title, but as her senior year winds down, she’s looking toward the Olympics. She checked off her minimum-qualifying score last week in rifle, and will attempt to make the smallbore team in April for the Brazil games.
“The Olympics are the ultimate goal,” she said. “I’ll keep trying through Tokyo (in 2020).”
Black’s Horned Frogs are 12-1 on the season, with their only loss coming to Air Force.
“She’s one of the top performers on the team,” Monez said. “She’s definitely made a difference. I’m certainly going to miss her next year.”