Spotlight: UVA Law Rod & Gun Club

W. Agustus “Gus” Todd ‘19
Guest Columnist

If the name didn’t give it away, the Rod & Gun Club at UVA Law brings together students interested in fishing and shooting or interested in learning how to do either. While most people might not immediately associate lawyers wearing suits with tramping through the woods to go fishing or hunting, the members of the Rod & Gun Club beg to differ. In fact, time spent at the pond or at the range can be extraordinarily helpful in helping law students stay grounded and relaxed as the stress of day-to-day life builds.

Few things in life are more effective at helping one relax than finding a quiet pond and casting a few lures in the solitude of the outdoors. Or, if that nagging voice is reminding you of all the things you forgot to say during your last cold call, there is no better way to drown it out than by going to the range and blowing off a few dozen rounds. Either way, fishing and shooting easily go hand-in-hand with keeping your mind and body healthy in the high-stress environment that we law students tend to create for ourselves.

To be honest, I didn’t even look at the list of student organizations at UVA before I came for orientation as a 1L. I found out about the Rod & Gun Club through the Student Activities Fair and was actually shocked to see that such a club existed. I expected to see a litany of organizations relating to specific causes, political affiliations, and affinities, but I did not expect to see that fishing and shooting had enough of an interest among the students who attend a top law school to warrant having its own organization. Having grown up fishing and shooting, I was anxious to find places to do both during my time here. In that regard, the Rod & Gun Club seemed like a gift to me and has introduced me to an entire community both inside the Law School and out that love fresh air and making things go boom.

The elephant in the room for the Rod & Gun Club comes with the “Gun” part of the club. I recognize that the issue of firearm ownership in this country can invoke intense political passions. More than that, firearms are dangerous when used improperly and can be very intimidating to those who do not have much experience around them. I am sure that in and of itself is a turn-off for many here at the law school. I would urge those people to come to an event and give it a shot. We are not a political organization, so you don’t have to worry about us trying to get you to change your political beliefs. We just really enjoy these activities and love sharing them with anybody who is interested. We also are really good at teaching people how to safely handle firearms and become proficient shooters. If you have ever been curious about how to shoot a gun but never knew how to go about learning, we are more than happy to show you how!

In fact, many of our members came to their first event with absolutely no background in either shooting or fishing; most of them also come without equipment. So if you have an interest but are afraid of looking like you have no idea what you are doing, you probably won’t be the only one. Thankfully, our members are generous with their skills as well as their stuff and are more than willing to give individual lessons on how to use their things. The club also will rent equipment at our group outings for members to use. Keeping watch over everybody is our Safety Chair Michael Haden, who knows how to keep all of us safe through his years of experience running shooting ranges as an officer in the Army.

We host monthly group shooting events, usually at the Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays course in Mt. Crawford as well as numerous other informal shooting events at local gun ranges. We also plan on hosting a “New Shooter’s Day” in the spring for anybody in the UVA Law family interested in getting hands-on instruction behind an assortment of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. For the anglers, we are planning to set up a fly-fishing tutorial in the spring as well. And as always, we have members going to ranges and fishing holes all the time to unwind.

If you are interested in anything the Rod & Gun Club has to offer, feel free to reach out to any of the members of the board. I serve as the President (, but you can also contact Jansen VanderMeulen, Vice President (, Scott Myers, Treasurer (, Jacob Roth, Shooting Chair (, our FChairs James Lockerby ( and Justin Aimonetti (, or last but not least, Michael Haden our Safety Chair (