Clemson Shotgun Club wins National Championship
CLEMSON — The Clemson University Shotgun Club, propelled by first-place finishes in several individual events, won the Division III national championship and team high overall score at the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target National Championships in San Antonio, Texas.
The national title comes on the heels of last month’s victory at the Southeast Collegiate Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla., and just four years after the club was officially formed. This was the club’s third trip to the national championships. It finished second in 2012.
“This victory was a total team effort,” said Rick Willey, shotgun club coach and Clemson University Extension 4-H natural resource specialist. “Our team set a goal and dedicated itself to achieving that goal.”
Clemson’s national title was built on first-place finishes in five stand and sporting clays, a first-place tie in American skeet and a second-place tie in American trap.
Clemson’s shooters included Player Aston, Hunter Baughman, Catherine Blankenship, Cody Gasgue, Hunter Lalli, Alex McHale, Austin Mogy, Austin Rodgers, Chris Sladek, Katie Stansell, Collin Stokes, David Tucker and Zack Wyatt.
The club outshot teams from George Mason University, Purdue University, the University of Arizona, Iowa State University, the University of Florida, the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, Oklahoma State University, the University of Arkansas and Harvard University, among others. A total of 53 teams took part in the championship.
The club received $33,000 toward its MidwayUSA Foundation Scholastic Shooting Trust. The club has won a total of $67,000 in MidwayUSA prize money this season. It can withdraw 5 percent per year to offset costs.
The Clemson University Shotgun Club started in 2009 with a small group of shooters who shot clays from a manual trap. In 2010, one of those shooters approached Willey about forming an official club. In 2011, the club competed on a limited basis.
Willey credits 4-H and the South Carolina Youth Shooting Foundation for creating a strong foundation in clay target shooting. There are also several private schools throughout the state with strong teams.
The club’s national championship in Division III means that it is required to compete in a higher division next season.
“The numbers show that we should be able to compete strongly in the higher division,” Willey said. “I told the team on the way back from San Antonio that they are great shooters, as good as anyone else there. And they will have no problem moving up.”
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