Dr. Paul Messina shows off the medals he won at the 2009 USA Shooting Zone 8 Championships in Rosenberg, Texas.

By Ashley Festa

Dr. Paul Messina, assistant professor of mathematics, became interested in the sport of shooting while in high school and enjoyed it so much that he continued practicing through his first year in college. Then he took a 25-year hiatus.

When he picked up a rifle again, he began setting records right and left. Most recently in Australia, he participated in the 2009 World Masters Games. Before that, he set records at the 2009 State Games of America in Colorado Springs, Colo., and at the USA Shooting Zone 8 Championships in Rosenberg, Texas.

“I don’t know how I’ve been this blessed and fortunate because the events are so different,” said Messina, who competes in both rifle shooting and pistol shooting.

In December, he’ll be trying out for the World Cup. If he does well, he could qualify for a world ranking. The fact that he practices four hours a day, five days a week has a lot to do with his success. Or maybe, he’s a natural. “In pistol (shooting), I have this really good feeling, an aura. I picked up a pistol for the first time as a joke” when someone challenged him to try it. He ended up being good at it, and “I was hooked at that point.”

Messina says his shooting coach has taught him not to get caught up in scores or how well he is doing.

In addition to teaching him technique, his coach also gives him encouragement. “If you have a desire, it’s attainable. It doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but you have a chance,” Messina explained.

Messina stressed that anyone can pick up a firearm and learn what he’s learned.

“I would encourage anyone to give it a shot,” he said.

No pun intended.

Dr. Paul Messina’s scores are posted on his blog at http://pmessina.webs.com