Traveling WV: Mountaineer Rifle Maker

    Morgantown gunsmith Marvin Wotring makes the rifle for the West Virginia University Mountaineer. (WCHS/WVAH)

    The West Virginia University Mountaineer mascot has gone through many changes through the years, from a fur vest and flannel shirt, to the eventual buckskins and coon skin cap.

    One thing has never changed -- the Mountaineer rifle.

    Enter Morgantown gunsmith Marvin Wotring. In 1977, Wotring was asked by the university to repair the Mountaineer rifle, which at that time was a foreign design.

    "I couldn't even find parts for it," Wotring said.

    Wotring decided to use his well-honed skills and made a brand new, authentic, American-made black powder rifle for the beloved Mountaineer. He has been making them ever since.

    The rifle is passed down to the next Mountaineer when the next student takes over the position, but Wotring makes a new rifle about every four years. The retired rifles are put on display at West Virginia University. Wotring also has developed longstanding friendships with the 27 Mountaineers he has worked with and actually taught several of them how to load, shoot and care for each rifle.

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