By Joe Simmons, Special to The Star
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation hosts the Scholastic Clay Target Program’s National Championships annually during the month of July. The tournament is held at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill., which is the largest shooting complex in the world. At this year’s tournament, there were more than 2,800 participants and more than 25 percent of the participants hail from the great state of Tennessee. Our 4-H team from Tipton County, the T-County Clay Busters, showed that hard work and dedication payoff.
Houston Carson brought home top honors winning the individual National Championship with an astounding perfect score in the Varsity Division, 200 of 200 targets, in the 16 yard American Trap Competition. Joey Simmons came in 8th in the Varsity Division with a score of 198 of 200 targets shooting a 99 on each of the two day competition. Houston Carson was also awarded the “Rudy Cup” an honor that goes to the top shooter from the state of Tennessee. The Rudy Cup is a traveling trophy that resides at the Nashville Gun Club.
Shooting in the Varsity Division, Hunter Phillips placed fifth in American Trap Handicap. In the College Division, Kaitlyn Bradley won second place in the American Trap Handicap. Her former teammate from the T-County Clay Busters, Shelby Simmons, won the National Championship in the College Division. Shelby shoots for the University of Tennessee at Martin’s Clay Target Team. Shelby also placed second in the 16 yard American Trap Competition.
The SSSF National Championships also includes Scholastic Pistol Program. In this year’s SPP competition Kaitlyn Bradly took home top honors by wining the National Championship in the College Rim Fire Division and Hunter Phillips came in fourth in the Varsity Center Fire Division.
Joey Simmons won two scholarships, a $1,000 scholarship from the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation and another $1,000 scholarship from the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program. Joey will be attending the University of Tennessee at Martin this fall.
The T-County Clay Busters are part of the University of Tennessee’s 4-H Shooting Sports Program. This program is open to youth fifth grade and up who live in Northern Shelby County or Tipton County. We have a great time preparing for these competitions. We participate in eight to ten competitions per year ranging from local tournaments to state and national tournaments. The value of this program goes far beyond teaching youth firearms safety and sportsmanship. This program is a great character builder. It helps youth in every aspect of their lives including focus and teamwork. These kids really pull together and develop friendships that will last a lifetime.
We are looking to grow the team for next year. We have seven NRA trained shotgun coaches who are dedicated to youth development. Your child doesn’t have to be an expert shot. In fact, we enjoy training youth who have no previous experience with firearms. Tryouts are not required; we work with every age group and skill level. The beauty of this program is that everyone is on a level playing field. There are many divisions so athletes with similar skill levels are able to compete with each other.
If your child is interested in joining the T-County Clay Busters contact Joe Simmons via email at TNTrapper@yahoo.com or on Facebook at T-County Clay Busters 4-H Shooting Sports Program.