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MIT student blogger Snively '11

Bang! Update [3] by Snively '11


It’s 11:42 am Eastern time and I’m packing my bags. ¿Porque? The MIT pistol team is on its way to West Point in New York for a shooting competition!

Yes, that’s right, MIT has a pistol team, and a good one at that. In fact, last year the MIT pistol team won the National Championships, beating out Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and a slew of other teams. Geeks with guns, gotta love it.

I’d never shot before coming to MIT, but pistol seemed like fun. Shooting is a useful skill, no experience was necessary, MIT is awesome at pistol, and the range is on campus, why not join? I’ve been shooting since September and have been progressively getting better and better. I suggest that anybody considering pistol get involved. Just e-mail the coach (you can find him here:

From the Hotel

We had our first round of shooting this evening against West Point, but first we had to get there. What we discovered is that a combination of hearing protection and iPod headphones makes a great set of noise-canceling headphones!

Sina sporting the noise canceling headphones

I have a physics final on Monday (8.01L) so I studied a bit on the bus, as evidenced by the following picture:

We went straight from the bus into the range, which is, unlike ours, housed in a castle. Seriously, castle.

The event shot tonight is called “Air Pistol.” The rules are pretty straightforward: 60 shots, one hour and forty-five minutes, best possible score of 600 (10 per target). West Point’s air pistol range is 18 lanes, so nine of our shooters shot tonight. I wasn’t one of them (I shoot tomorrow) so I got to take a bunch of pictures!

They use electronic targets, meaning they have cooler targets in their range than we do in ours. The white part of the target is stationary but the black center is actually on a roll. After you shoot the black center the computer records your shot, displays it on a monitor sitting next to you, and then the black center reels away, yielding a fresh new target. Of course, if you miss the black center and hit the white part you get to stare at your missed shot for the rest of the match. Incentive to hit the center, eh?

Fu shooting during the air competition

The monitors display your shot points, where you shot, and where the center of your grouping is. It also gives you a quantitative measure of distance from center.

Eddie shooting during the air competition

Everyone shooting did well, with several personal bests. Again, I shoot tomorrow, so all I can do now is wait, blog, and demonstrate how my shirt says TIM in the mirror.

Until tomorrow . . .

Back at MIT

I’ve decided to take a quick break from studying for physics to finish up this post. If you’ll recall where we left off, I was in the the hotel room after our first day of shooting. Well, after a free breakfast (courtesy of Holiday Inn Express) we headed back to West Point to shoot some more. This is when I was able to shoot. I shot in the first air pistol round of the morning.

My spot on the bench

Me shooting

I shot a 513 for my first air round, which was 3 points shy of my personal best.

I had heard that there were going to be more air rounds though, so I asked around and it turned out that I would get to shoot again. Now, there’s no real benefit to me shooting again, except practice and getting comfortable shooting in match-conditions, but I wanted to see if I could increase my score. Turns out I did, not by much, but I shot a 517, one point above my personal best.

The rest of the day was spent watching movies in the shooting lounge (Equilibrium, Pirates 3, and Die Hard) before packing up, thanking Army, and loading onto the bus. Before we left, however, I was informed of something interesting that was hiding downrange of the other shooting range. What was it?

TERRORISTS! West Point practices on terrorists! Now, I knew there had to be some explanation to this, there’s no good reason to practice on terrorists if you can practice on targets, so after we asked around we discovered that West Point has something called a Combat Assault Squad. It’s a sport, just like pistol, only they get to shoot shotguns, M16s, run through obstacle courses, and shoot terrorists. We’ve officially decided that MIT needs a combat assault squad.

On the way back to MIT we stopped at a restaurant called Cracker Barrel. Looking at the menu I saw a half-pound burger with bacon, but I wasn’t sure that would be enough food. I asked our waiter if he good add an extra patty to it. “Well, it’s never been done, but I’m sure we can do that,”


What I ended up with was a one-pound burger that was absolutely delicious. People had their doubts as to whether I could finish it or not, but it turns out that I was the first one done, and then I had dessert. I think all those super burritos from Anna’s have conditioned my stomach enough to withstand mass quantities of food.

Back on the bus after a group picture

we continued the 3.5 hour bus ride back to MIT, providing ample time for a nap. Well, actually, it would have been 3.5 hours, but several hours into the ride/my nap the bus started slowing down. I look around, confused, and nobody else seems to know what’s going on. All of a sudden our charter bus is pulling a U-turn in this tiny little deserted road in the pitch black. Turns out we’d gotten lost and had traveled almost an hour out of the way. Wonderful. I went back to sleep. I woke up again and realized that the people sitting across from me had tied my shoes together. I untied them and went back to sleep. I woke up again. My shoes were tied together, again. I untied them, again, and went back to sleep. I woke up again. This time we were actually back in Cambridge! A minute later we were back at MIT, and then half an hour later I was back in my dorm, exhausted, and ready for sleep.

We ended up losing to Army overall, but we did win in air pistol. It was a very fun trip, lots of good food, good company, and good stories. I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

51 responses to “Bang! Update [3]”

  1. Star says:

    Geeks with guns, I do love it. Good luck in the competition! Blow ’em away wink

  2. Akshay says:

    Hmmm…shooting…it’s not a game for me. But I’d like to take a prelim of it. And maybe one day I’ll also go to the competitions like you Snively.

    And best of luck. May the best team win.

  3. Natalie says:

    Sounds like fun. Good luck!

  4. Harrison says:

    Just so you and all your DFA people know we finished tied for 7th (remarkable since we were two hours behind everyone else) which was way ahead of you guys.

  5. Anonymous says:

    shooting at MIT..that was unpredictable..Fantastic!!..”Geeks With Guns” –> Snively at his BEST!!!

  6. Francis says:

    why are there so many Asians on the pistol team?

  7. Sam says:


    Francis — True story, related to me by Kendall ’07: at last year’s national collegiate pistol tournament (which, as Snivvy Snivs mentions, was won by MIT), the Asians on MIT’s team were the only Asians in the entire tournament. Maybe it’s our secret weapon.

  8. Nihar says:

    Good Luck!
    ……mess with geeks, and we’l shoot you down!

  9. Isshak says:

    I always knew that diversity would win…

    Well, good luck, and try to blog during your trip if you can !

  10. Hyun JIn says:

    Wow, if you guys can beat the professionals, this should be a piece of cake. :D

    Good luck.

  11. BB says:

    So how did the first 9 people do?

  12. Nihar says:

    33?! Woah!.

    Lol..yea! or maybe they could have their own army!

    The Bullseye Beavers!! – We’re geeks…and we’re deadly! smile

  13. Aditi says:

    geeks with guns =)

    good luck!

  14. Anasua says:

    I’m better at rifles (shooting nails and shutting up brothers), but this seems like fun.
    And is the book a Halliday-Resnick-Walker? Always did like that book (and that example in rotational mechanics),after the Feynman lectures.
    Oh, and best of luck. Geeks with guns should rule(like the movies where they always mentally calculate where every shot will reach at that velocity and angle)

  15. Shruthi says:

    Geeks with guns :D I like the sound of it… All the best Snively!!

  16. Reg says:

    I would love to try pistol, that is if I get in raspberry

  17. wow, you have become big shooters!:P Snively! Did you have a good score ?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Which course at MIT uses Halliday/Resnick/Walker as textbook?

  19. Tanmay says:

    hmmm… that was conservation of angular momentum.

  20. prince says:

    he buddy, best of luck…….njoy……

  21. Nihar says:

    Hey Michael!…how many Shooters on MITz team here?

  22. Snively says:

    MIT has 33 people on its pistol team.

    I’m taking 8.01L to get that book, but it is also the book for 8.01 as well. Consequently, most freshmen end up buying it.

  23. dan says:

    dang good luck!

    mit pistol team should join the army as an elite squad

  24. Shruthi says:

    Ah… Resnick Halliday, I love that book smile Saved my neck quite a lot during innumerable tests…. :D

  25. Shruthi says:

    How did it go? New post with pics perhaps? :D

  26. Tanmay says:

    Shruthi, liked Mr. Irodov’s book (general probs in phy)?

  27. A Girl says:

    Are there any girls on the pistol team? Thanks.

  28. Snively says:

    @A Girl

    MIT’s pistol team has a ton of girls on it, I’d almost be willing to say more than half (but I’d have to double check).

  29. Aditi says:


    hmm… random question : do you people like resnick and halliday or sears and zemansky better

    i *heart* sears and zemansky =)

  30. Snively says:

    I (heart)^-1 physics.

    This goes for books as well.

    There will be a rant about physics that I’ll blog, but I’m going to save it for when I’m really really angry. That’s when some of my best writing comes forth.

  31. Hawkins says:

    Good luck, man! I’m actually thinking of trying my hand at this… It looks fun!

  32. Sam R. '12 says:

    Wow, who would imagine MIT was soo good at shooting! Very cool. (hey good idea of the shirt in the mirror). Good luck!
    -sam r.

  33. Sina says:

    Hey Mike, great roundup of our pistol trip! We definitely need a Combat Assault Squad… or failing that, Bruce Willis skills.

  34. Sam R.'12 says:

    Congrats on the 517, this team sounds pretty cool. i might look into it at mit.
    -sam r.

  35. A.T says:

    That was one of the most funny, intersting posts I have ever read! Keep going Snively!!!!

  36. Milind says:

    Good luck and have fun! Nice idea with the noise canceling headphones btw! Do you get to keep them?

  37. Meghan '12 says:

    I love Cracker Barrel!!! The fried okra and chocolate milk is deliciousssssssssss :D

    Congrats on the 517.

  38. Tanmay says:

    Yes, he is Russian. There have been a number of great books by Russian authors. IA Maron’s book on one-variable calculus and GN Berman’s on general math and also N Akhmetov’s book on general and physical chemistry.

    Okay, the Americans aren’t too far behind/ahead. One would enjoy Morrison-Boyd for organic chem. I admired Thomas-Finney’s calculus book the most in my entire library!

    Books are important.

  39. I second the motion to form a Combat Assault Team. We could train by having an East Campus v West Campus Paintball battle. Or, team up with the sailing team and have a naval battle on the Charles.

    Geeks with guns are even greater than cows with guns.

    Regarding the MIT weapons policy, how difficult is it to obtain permission from the Chief of the MIT Campus Police to bring firearms on campus? Does this phrase just refer to temporary permission to carry one, or permission to have one under lock in your dorm?

    I don’t currently own any gunpowder weapons, but have thought I should learn how to use one.

  40. AwayfromHome says:

    If there isn’t already one, we definitely do need to get MIT a paintball team. It may not be quite Combat Assault (which would also be amazing) but I think it’d be easier to get approved. And slightly cheaper.

  41. yea, I suppose It would be neigh-unto impossible to get a combat assault team to match a military institute. I was actually thinking something more along the lines of a paintball team/ zombie & veloceraptor preparedness squad

  42. Anonymous says:

    I.E. Irodov? Russian author right? It was really nice, even though I couldnt solve most of them by myself :D

    N what about chemistry?

  43. Shruthi says:

    Oh sorry, that was me…. Best writing Snively? smile Looking forward to that post :D

  44. Great post/blog! *pokes topic of post* That’s why I love MIT! Yay!

    OMG OMG!! lol. I take courses at the local university here, and in the physics course I take, we use the exact same book! OMG (again)! XD

    Also, I’m coming up to visit MIT (hopefully) soon. Is there anything that I should definitely do? Classes that I should sit in on?

  45. E. Rosser says:

    Well, shucks. Shotguns and rifles I could do (at least you can put the barrels somewhere!) but pistol looks really hard. Are air pistols any more difficult to fire than regular ones?
    “Paintball” and “Zombie & Veloceraptor preparedness squad.” FINALLY someone makes the connection!
    Jolly good, all.

  46. Twilight Bob says:

    Does MIT have a rifle team? I’m better with a rifle. With my uncle’s M1, I can shoot a five round group at 100 yards that you can cover with a nickel: A penny over the first hole, a penny over the second hole…

  47. neev says:

    Geeks With Guns..Best One

  48. Snively says:

    @ Twilight Bob

    MIT has a very decent rifle team. I don’t know much about it but it would be worth checking in to if you are interested.

  49. I want to do this so much. I’ve been shooting some sort of weapon almost all my life and I want to continue shooting during college. It is just too bad MIT doesn’t have a trap or skeet team…(or do they?) Smallbore and air pistol look fun though.

    If I somehow manage to get a tube sent to me in 2 months, then I am definitely checking this team out.

  50. Twilight Bob says:


    Heh–I’ll see if I get in first before I start thinking about sports at MIT.