Anecdotes and Observations from a Sporting Perspective

(Why youth shooters need to shoot registered targets)

 I am involved heavily in the youth shooting arena in South Carolina.  I coach a team and help with another and I am always fostering some kid or another in the pursuit of a better understanding of the clays game.   I am also involved to a degree in the NSCA registered shoots in South Carolina both as a shooter and as a shooter’s representative in the role of VP of the State’s association.  It is my job to go out among the shooters and dialog with them about current issues, both in the circuit shoots and regional shoots and bring information or discussion points back to the Board for assessment and/or action.  I have been asked on several occasions that if the youth shooting teams of South Carolina in the guise of SCSYF, SCTP, 4h and now DNR based teams are the future of the sport , then why are the kids not  participating to a greater degree in the many registered shoots around the State.  Why are the youth shooters not making a greater impact on the numbers? 

In a recent circuit shoot at Clinton House Plantation, that question became fodder for the Board.  After spirited discussion, it became apparent that there were two schools of thought regarding youth.  Some thought the numbers were negligent and others felt that the youth shooters had a good presence…….Upon looking at the numbers at just that shoot alone (I recall there were 76 shooters of the various classes) I discovered that we had approximately  15  youth shooters but the added impact of the parents, and grandparents and other family members shooting  brought the totals of youth involvement up to at least a third of the field!  I think the youth involvement in shoots local to the kid’s home course in underrated.  The big question is how we educate the youth shooters and reach out to them regarding participation in the NSCA registered events.

Number one would be education!  Few of the kids and most of the parents (those who don’t shoot) fail to understand the process of shooting a registered tournament.  I have heard many remark they or their kids cannot compete against the upper tier shooters.  Well, to explain, you are only competing against shooters in your class which as a beginner in the registered shoot arena allows you to start in E class.  As they gain experience in sporting clays, and after winning or placing in a few events they have won enough “punches” to move up a class (there are many links that explain the punch process better than I can) until you compete your way through d, then c, then b then a, aa and the pinnacle of master class……that’s the journey that we all aspire to and many of the kids who dominate the youth league compete very well in the various classes.

As good as the youth leagues are in helping get our shooters gain insight into the basics, the youth leagues are limited in the targets they can effectively throw.  The courses are set very soft with simple presentations that appeal to the younger or beginning shooters. (soft targets are reasonable as no new shooter wants an embarrassing score )This promotes the sport in fine fashion but does little to help the more advanced shooters that have more passion for the sport and want to achieve more or learn more advanced techniques.  I feel that for these shooters who have passion for the sport there is no better formula than to attend the circuit shoots and or other registered shoots that abound in South Carolina. 

Registered targets cost a few dollars more because the club has to pay an additional cost of 7 cents per target to have the bird registered and tracked by the NSCA (4 cents a target to National Association for inclusion on the web and in the sporting clays magazine and 3 cents to State Association  for promotion and money for State Championship shoot.) but many parents will spend good money ($75 to $125 per hour) with a coach week after week for their kid who already is accomplished  in the basic move and mount.  Most of these youth shooting enthusiasts only require more views of technical targets that are routinely thrown at the registered shoots around the State!  [And it’s a lot of fun to thumb through the monthly magazine and find your score in a recent shoot!]  I think the real key to successful shooting is to shoot whenever you can and not just practice. Practice is fine and every shooter needs a practice routine to keep the move and mount and basic gun mechanics reasonably fluid.  The practice will ensure the move is instinctive and subconscious.  However, the kids I coach who attend the circuit shoots sponsored by the South Carolina Sporting Clays Association are winning their classes and gaining invaluable experience and a mental approach that will stand them in good stead at the youth  tournaments.  In recent years, the kids who have been stalwarts in the circuit shoots and regional shoot formats have dominated the youth leagues! [And why not? ]  The insight gained in shooting more technical presentations in the circuit shoots and the mental approach honed in the heat of competition against the comparable shooters in each respective class is invaluable in the learning curve of a shooter who has passion for the sport!  For examples you only have to look at our recent State Championship at Rocky Creek.   The in-state lower classes were dominated by youth shooters!

Will Clyburn won A class … Live Oak Clay Duster…Champs Camp

Carson Price won B class…Rocky Knoller

Jackson Lowder was B2…Backwoods Quail Club

Carson Black won D class…Live Oak Clay Duster

Brianna Gibson was D2… Also Ladies State Champion…Wyman King….Champs Camp

Everette Fowler was D4…Live Oaks Clay Duster…Champs Camp

Brad Lehman won E class…Live Oak Clay Duster…Champs Camp

Christopher Fleury was E2…MCGC Young Guns…Champs Camp

The common theme is they are shooters with a lot of passion who are not satisfied [just] shooting youth events.   They attend registered shoots whenever possible.  Five of the eight were also in attendance at the youth shooting training camp “Champs Camp” hosted by Tony Monzingo and David Radulavich at Live Oak every Summer.  This camp focuses on the mental aspect of shooting and has produced a host of All American shooters across the country.

If you want or need additional information regarding shooting registered targets and the benefits explained to you in a more personal way, go to the South Carolina Sporting Clays Association!  Ask a registered shooter who participates or call an Officer of the Board that is listed on the website.  Just don’t ask that coach who wants you to continue giving him money for basic instruction week after week. 

I am a coach and I understand that coaches are needed.  Ocasionally every shooter needs an evaluation of his [her] game or when a fundamental has slipped and you have plateaued at one level or another.  However I feel the most important aspect of learning to shoot is seeing  varied presentations often and shooting them often!  There is no better venue than the many circuit shoots in the State!

Dan Paxton

NSCA Level Two Instructor

VP SC Sporting Clays Assoc.