A large navy blue tent caught the attention of Erin Lokke in June of 2015. She wandered over, introduced herself and initiated a conversation that would prove critical for her future. Lokke admits she “wasn’t looking very hard” for colleges that would offer the opportunity to pursue the activity she was most passionate about.
Right there in Alexandria, Minnesota, Lokke made the connection that would put her on a path to achieving things that likely seemed like the stuff of dreams during her days competing through her local 4-H.
Dr. Joel Helmer, who got the trap & skeet program started at Concordia, remembered that first encounter with Lokke at the Minnesota State High School Trap Shoot. Said Helmer, “At that point, Erin was not even considering shooting in college and had plans to attend an in-state school. By the end of the conversation I felt like Erin was seriously considering coming to Concordia and that, of course, is what she did. I know God played a role in having our paths cross at the right time and place and for leading Erin and her family to choose Concordia. I also immediately felt that Erin and her family would be a great fit for Concordia and our team.”
A native of Saint Francis, Minn., Lokke has proven to be the type of fit that Helmer projected on that summer day roughly three years ago. She’s risen to star status for a Bulldog trap & skeet program that began from scratch in 2014. In the few years since then, Lokke has twice qualified for the USA Collegiate Team and had the opportunity to train in Pennsylvania with Morgan Craft, a 2016 Olympian in skeet.
It’s been an impressive rise for Lokke, who has exceeded the expectations she had for herself in competitive shooting. The success has failed to corrupt her humility. Lokke ended a nearly 20-minute interview with a request. She wanted to emphasize the role of her family, including her parents Chris and Deb and three siblings. Says Lokke, “I am very thankful for my family and for the time they’ve put into helping me. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”
Lokke says that her mother and father were avid duck hunters and were the ones who introduced Erin to 4-H and the shooting sports world. Erin also enjoyed softball, which she played for 12 years. But her love of taking out targets won out. She was six or seven years old when she got her start with a BB gun. From there she moved up to archery and shooting a .22 rifle. At the age of 12, she took a hunter safety course and gravitated to a shotgun, an 870 Wingmaster to be exact. She then made waves as a high school competitor.
Lokke arrived in Seward as of the top young sharpshooters in Minnesota. She really wasn’t sure what was next at the collegiate level. “I kept an open mind about it,” Lokke said. “I had never moved away from my home. I have a twin sister that I had to leave, which was hard. I didn’t really have a lot to expect. I just wanted to shoot the best I could and learn the most valuable lessons. I just tried to keep an open heart about it.”
After three years of collegiate shooting, it seems Lokke has come to expect a lot from herself. Things change when you begin turning heads on a national scale. She has greater aspirations than what she accomplished at this past year’s Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Clay Targets Championships (194th high over all among men and women). However, she finished third in ISO Skeet, an invite only competition.
She’s also rubbed elbows with the likes of Kim Rhode, a six-time Olympic medal winner, and Olympic champion Vincent Hancock.
Says Helmer, “Erin has a tremendous amount of drive to become an elite shooter. She puts in a huge amount of time, and money, during the summer and additional time during the season in practicing and competing. She travels throughout the country, not only competing against the best shooters in the nation, but also working with other shooters and coaches in honing her skills. God has blessed her with innate abilities that she has then worked to cultivate. She just loves to shoot.”
Thankfully, Lokke has one more year to shoot at the place she’s grown fond of. She will be the ideal senior leader for a program that enters its first year as an official varsity sport administered by the Concordia athletic department. Lokke will now work under the tutelage of Scott Moniot, announced as head coach on Wednesday (June 27). Helmer will continue with the program as an assistant.
Before pursuing a career and ambitious post-collegiate shooting aspirations, Lokke is going to soak up one more year at Concordia.
“No. 1 I love that it’s a Christian-focused college,” says Lokke in recalling why she chose Concordia. “I wanted to pursue my faith and they also had Professor (Dr. Tim) Huntington. I wanted to pursue biology and forensic science. I knew his background and I really wanted to be taught by him. With the shooting team, I really wanted to go somewhere with shooting. I knew I could do it. I really loved the combination of the Christian atmosphere, the education and the activity that I loved. It was a trio that made it so I couldn’t go anywhere else. The campus is beautiful and the dorm life looked beautiful. I loved it. I was more than ecstatic to join.”
Erin has become the type of person that teammates and peers look up to. Her drive to become the next Morgan Craft or Kim Rhode is admirable. Wherever her path leads, she’ll always remember that big blue tent – and she’ll never forget about her roots and the days spent on the range in Anoka County, Minnesota.
Says Lokke, “Eventually the goal is Olympics, one day down the line. On top of that, I plan to show the sport to my future kids and to friends and family. I want to show them the good side of USA shooting and shotguns and guns in general.”