When Harry Mullins took over as rifle coach at the University of Kentucky, the official job status was listed as "part-time, temporary."
To make ends meet, Mullins held part-time jobs at a pawn shop and as a bartender. At least he knew his team wasn't bar-hopping.
That was 1987, a year after he won his third Southeastern Conference title in smallbore.
"You have to do what you have to do to make ends meet, to do what I love to do," Mullins said Tuesday.
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About 10 years after becoming a full-time employee at UK, Mullins now has resting in his office what he calls his "twins and their cousin" — NCAA championship trophies for overall and smallbore competition, and the runner-up trophy for air rifle.
The Wildcats took their first team title last weekend at Columbus (Ga.) State University. UK had finished runner-up four other times, most recently in 2009.
Mullins, who as an "army brat" lived in Germany until he was nearly 12, says he has no regrets about his part-time work at UK. Heck, there weren't many full-time rifle coaches anywhere in the country then. He says President Lee T. Todd Jr. and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart have given him the means to compete at a high level.
Mullins also shares credit with assistant Stacy Underwood. The two coaches mapped out a plan in September on how to approach this season's training focus and mental approach.
In years past, "we sat there and we would always worry about winning and losing," Mullins said. "More so than just coming in and doing what we were supposed to do every day. Our philosophy, a big part of it, was to get better every day."
The Cats did exactly that, scoring a record 4,700 points to beat top-ranked West Virginia's 4,697. Murray State placed fifth with 4,634.
With Ethan Settlemires and Heather Greathouse placing 1-2 individually, UK bested the Mountaineers 2,336-2,329 for the smallbore title on Friday. West Virginia took air rifle honors Saturday, 2,368-2,364.
Mullins' advice Saturday amounted to assuring his team that the smallbore title was UK's. Rather than try to protect a team lead, go out and give the same effort, try to win the air rifle portion.
Greathouse, a sophomore from Nelson, N.H., traded spots with teammate Henri Junghänel to lead off Saturday at 8 a.m.
"I just like shooting early in the morning," Greathouse said. "Just because it's easier. My mind is still quiet. And it's easy to psyche yourself out at such a big competition."
Instead, Greathouse psyched up her team by firing 591 of a possible 600.
Early on, though, nerves appeared to be getting to Greathouse. Until Mullins sent Underwood to the firing line for a pep talk.
"No matter what's going on, when she comes and talks to me ... I go back on the line and I can just shoot and it's no problem," Greathouse said.
So what was the advice?
"She told me to 'dance it out.' Every five shots, dance it out, shake it out," Greathouse said. "We were kind of dancing off the line. It was pretty funny. She makes me kind of calm down and keep a positive mind-set."
Emily Holsopple, a freshman from Wilcox, Pa., shot 589. Logan Fox, a senior from Shelby County, shot what would be the throwaway score, 578.
Junghänel, a member of the German national team, led UK with 594, third-best of the day.
Settlemires, a junior from Kossuth, Miss., was the last shooter to finish. The air rifle bull's-eye, from a distance of 10 meters, appears to be about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Settlemires, who hit the bull's-eye, said he focuses by using "just a lot of breathing control, heart-rate control, keeping steady and not too anxious."
"It may not look like you're moving much if somebody's behind you watching, but when you're looking through sights, it can look like a hurricane's going on."
Settlemires found the eye of the storm to shoot 590, the same score that gave him the smallbore title.
"Before I came to UK, I was mostly an air rifle shooter," Settlemires said. "I didn't really focus much on smallbore. Then Harry kind of set me up with a better gun than what I had and coached me through — him and Stacy both. They've both been great. Now, I'm almost tempted to say smallbore is right there, if not better than, my air rifle."
With Fox and Sarah Broeker UK's only seniors on a 12-deep roster, the future is bright.
"Next year we should have a strong team," Holsopple said. "And we're picking up a few more (recruits). We're going to have a really good go at it next year."
Mullins, who has 3.6 scholarships to spread among his shooters, isn't worried about defending the crown.
"We're not going to defend our national championship, because that's ours," he said. "We have to go out and earn the next one. We're looking like we're going to be competitive, definitely, for the next three or four years."