Seth Bearjar was 10 years old when he fired a BB gun that his father had given him for the first time. At that moment, he had no idea that it would spark what would one day become his passion.
Jump ahead a decade, and Bearjar has now won multiple national titles with the Ohio State pistol team.
The Buckeyes have been crowned champions at the Pistol Intercollegiate National Championships for the third straight year, giving them eight titles in program history. Bearjar, a junior, has been a member of the team throughout the current streak.
“I’m sure it is the same with all teams that have won more than one (championship). At a certain point it becomes expected to win,” Bearjar said. “However, it is still one of the most exciting feelings you will get.”
Bearjar began shooting competitively with the pistol and rifle team at Patuxent High School in Lusby, Maryland, about an hour south of the United States Naval Academy. It was here that he picked up rifle, following in the footsteps of his older brother who also shot rifle for the team. He picked up pistol shooting his freshman year, as well, which he discovered he was much better at.
Navy’s coach had wanted Bearjar to come shoot for them, but in his junior season, he decided that a military academy was not for him. Bearjar then began pursuing other options, and amid that search, he found OSU.
“When I came and visited, I liked Ohio State,” Bearjar said. “I knew that the only way for me to continue shooting every day would be to be on a team, and Ohio State was the most supportive of having a team.”
When he joined the team after arriving in Columbus, Bearjar said he experienced a bit of a transitional period moving from high school to college.
“Coming here, there are some of the best shooters in the country,” Bearjar said. “I didn’t quite know how to respond. It was pretty intimidating at first.”
Despite any expectations of first-year turbulence, Bearjar excelled during competition. The team won the national championship, and he earned second-team All-American honors in both free and air pistol.
It was an important season for the team, as the seniors in their previous season were expected to win but fell short. In their final chance at a title, they did not disappoint.
“When we won, it was crazy,” Bearjar said. “It was really exciting. It felt really good to know that I was part of the team that helped the seniors recover after their previous year.”
Bearjar has now been on the team for three years, amassing a new championship at the end of each year. In that time, he has improved both as a shooter and a competitor.
In his sophomore season, Bearjar earned first-team All-American honors in free pistol and was a second-team All-American in air pistol. This past season, he achieved honor roll mentions for air and free pistol.
“He has become stronger physically,” said OSU coach Donna Knisley. “He has become very strong mentally, as well. He is probably one of my top mental shooters.”
Looking forward to the coming season, Bearjar and his team have their sights aimed at another national title.
“We really want to make it a fourth,” Bearjar said. “I think next year, as long as we win, and I think we have a really good chance, it will be one of the biggest celebrations. It will really be an achievement to win four years in a row.”
Even after shooting competitively for over eight years now, Bearjar said there is definitely still room for improvement.
“My personal goal is to make finals for all the events I shoot, but hopefully top three for air pistol,” he said. “It would be a nice way to end my shooting career.”