Keith Miller has served as the head coach of the NC State rifle team since 1990, but he has an even longer history with the Wolfpack shooting squad.
A native of Raleigh, Miller's involvement in rifle began at age nine, when he became a member of the Wolflets Junior Rifle Club. There he learned to shoot .22 rifles and was coached by students who were then members of the NC State varsity rifle team. His target shooting continued there until the closure of NC State's on-campus rifle range in 1980.
Building on his experience as a junior, Miller continued his shooting career at NC State as a member of the rifle team from 1981-85, lettering all four years. While at NC State, Miller competed in two NCAA Championships, both times shooting in the air rifle event. He was also invited to two training camps at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Miller was a two-time team MVP and served as team captain his junior and senior seasons. He graduated magna cum laude from NC State with a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1985.
After graduation, Miller worked overseas for two years as a semiconductor design engineer. He returned to North Carolina in 1988 and began his stint as assistant coach of the NC State rifle team. Upon the retirement of longtime head coach John Reynolds in 1990, Miller took over as head coach.
"When I was on State's team as a student, there were three aspects of our team that I thought were very important," said Miller. "As the head coach, one of my main goals is to foster those three strengths.
"The first is good grades, as most good shooters are excellent students. The second is our tradition of a team composed of both experienced shooters and walk-ons that we train from scratch to be solid contributors. The third is the mix of male and female shooters on the team. As the only true co-ed NCAA sport, in rifle men and women compete directly against each other, so there is no bias or advantage due to gender. Our women are very competitive, as are many nationwide.
"When considering future team members, my primary goal is to have the best shooters in North Carolina come to NC State. Recent increases in scholarships help this, as before we often lost the best in state talent to out of state schools with more scholarships, but now we are on an even playing field. In addition to in-state shooters, I try to focus on out-of-state athletes with the right attitude. Thus to help us reach or goals, the student must be the right type, one that shares our views of total team growth and academic dedication. That's the model that has worked for us, and I expect that it will continue to do so. I'm confident that we will be able to improve on our current conference and national rankings by implementing it."
Under Miller's guidance, the Wolfpack has won seven SEARC Championships since its induction into the conference in 1996. All seven of those titles have come since the 2003-04 season. Four NC State shooters have claimed the SEARC individual crown since 2004-05: Jennifer Marshall, Katie Siegert, Bryan Cross and Dani Foster. Marshall, the current assistant coach, was a three-time SEARC individual champion during her career.
The 2011-12 season was one of the most successful campaigns for the NC State rifle team in recent history. The team downed five school records during the season, en route to claiming its seventh conference title. Cross, Foster, Madeline Pike and William Teller set a new standard in air rifle (2,318), smallbore (2,292) and aggregate (4,596). Foster also set two new individual records, smallbore (580) and aggregate (1,162). In addition, Foster became the first individual in school history to qualify for the NCAA Championships since Miller did so in 1984.
Coach Miller's interest in shooting extends past the narrow focus of NCAA shooting. He has also trained extensively in other firearm disciplines, attended training taught by such world-renowned experts as Jeff Cooper and Louis Awerbuck. Through such training he has honed his skills in areas such as practical field rifle, defensive handgun, defensive shotgun, and sub-machine gun.
"While these areas don't completely carry over to Olympic-style shooting, many of our team members have interests in other shooting activities, whether it be hunting or high power rifle competition," said Miller. "If I can help them with some perspective in these other areas, it may add to their safe participation in them. Additionally, the fundamentals that we practice in target rifle shooting do positively reinforce many skills common to the other shooting sports. Being a good target shooter will invariably make a better hunter, a safer shooter, and an overall better shooter when participating in other areas. It's truly a win-win situation."
In addition to applying what he learned as a shooter and coach, Miller put his engineering degree to work. He spent more than sixteen years working in the semiconductor industry, holding various engineering and management positions with Mitsubishi Semiconductor, Mitsubishi Electronics, and most recently LogicVision, Inc. He currently splits his time between coaching at NC State and working as a freelance writer.
Miller is a member of various firearm organizations, including life memberships in the National Rifle Association, the North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association, and Grass Roots N.C. He also holds a lifetime sportsman's (hunting/fishing) license in North Carolina and is a member of several shooting clubs - Sir Walter Gun Club (as well as its firearms training arm: Sir Walter Shooting Services), the Wendell Wildlife Conservation Club, and Front Sight Firearms Training Institute (Las Vegas, Nev.). He is certified by the NRA as a range safety officer and is an NRA appointed rifle coach in the discipline of international advanced rifle.
Miller is married to wife Haruyo and has three young children - eldest son Eugene and twins Raimon (boy) and Emilie (girl).