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Bull’s-eye: UND freshman wins multiple national collegiate rifle shooting championships

Casia Steinhaus balances studies, marksmanship training as she prepares for upcoming competitions

Casia Steinhaus
At the end of March, UND freshman Casia Steinhaus swept the National Intercollegiate Rifle Championships. Photo by Adam Kurtz/UND Today.

A bull’s-eye at 50 feet? More like dozens of bull’s-eyes, and keep in mind the actual bull’s-eye on the target is no bigger than the size of the period that ends this sentence.

That tiny target is what UND freshman Casia Steinhaus hit again and again, from different positions, at the National Intercollegiate Rifle Championships in Fort Wayne, Ind., on March 22-24. The marksman event is hosted by the American Smallbore Shooting Association, which features target-shooting competitions in air rifle and small-bore rifles — .22 caliber to be exact.

Steinhaus, a Devils Lake native majoring in Math and Physics at UND, won gold medals in air rifle shooting and small-bore shooting and was named the event’s overall champion, meaning she swept each challenge in the competition. Steinhaus represented UND in the marksman event.

Naturally, she told UND Today, she was thrilled about her achievements.

“It’s amazing,” Steinhaus said. “Last year, I trained from five to seven days a week, and I feel like it really paid off.”

As she told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Steinhaus’ victory is only the second time someone has swept the three events at the National Intercollegiate Rifle Championships.

Steinhaus got her start in target shooting at the age of 8, when she was in the youth development group 4-H. In the sixth grade, she was invited to try shooting precision air rifle in Devils Lake by Rick Jorgenson, who has made a positive impact on her academic and shooting career and remains her coach today.

Under his tutelage, Steinhaus, at age 13, competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic trials in air rifle.

She found a supportive community in practicing the sport, not only in Devils Lake but beyond, when she became a member of the North Dakota Shooting Sports Association.

“It’s just a great community,” Steinhaus said. “The people in Devils Lake, we’re like a family, and even in all of North Dakota, you go to matches and it’s like seeing friends.”

As most high-level collegiate athletes can attest, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to balance athletic endeavors and an academic career, and Steinhaus says she’s grateful for the support of the people in the UND Physics Department, who she says are excited about her competitions.

“It’s really helpful to have faculty who understand and support you,” she said.

And Steinhaus has quite a busy schedule, academic and otherwise. This summer she will undertake a virtual internship with NASA, where she will learn about machine learning and satellite retrieval. She also was the recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship in Russian (which she had to decline in order to work with NASA).

Yee Han Chu, UND’s academic support and fellowship opportunities coordinator, said applying for those national scholarships and internships is a highly competitive process that requires strategy and persistence, something that Steinhaus likely learned from her dedication to her shooting sports. That dedication should serve her well in her academic pursuits and beyond.

“I love Casia’s ambition and willingness to risk and dream big,” Chu said. “She brings a high level of drive, focus and responsibility to all that she does.”

Not one to sit on her National Intercollegiate Rifle Championship laurels, Steinhaus is now in Colorado Springs, Colo., participating in the Junior Olympic National Rifle Championships. Next week, she will compete in the Junior Olympic National Pistol Championships, which also take place in Colorado Springs.

Casia Steinhaus
Casia Steinhaus takes aim at the National Intercollegiate Rifle Championships. Contributed image.