Washington youths give their best shot at clay target sports

Posted By on November 21, 2015

By Rich Landers

DSC_0527 As partner of USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports (USAYESS), the nation’s premier and only all-inclusive junior competitive shooting organization, Washington Youth Education in Shooting Sports, WAYESS, held its fourth annual Junior State Clay Target Championship. The tournament was open to any team or individual belonging to an organization which has a competitive shooting program such as USAYESS, 4-H, FFA, A.I.M., and others. More than 170 students, grades 6-12, were having a blast last weekend at Double Barrel Ranch south of Spokane and at the Spokane Trap and Skeet Club in Spokane Valley.

Over 20 teams from across the state were applying their year of training and practice in the fifth annual WAYESS Junior State Clay Target Championship.

In two days, most competitors fired 100 shotgun rounds in each of three venues: trap, skeet, and sporting clays.

Clay bursting RGB web Nathan Barron of Spokane had a two-day score of 282 out of 300, tying for first place overall with Max Jester of Wenatchee.

Among the other top individual performances were Barron and Tommy Hartman of Spokane shooting 99s in skeet and Colton Call of Spokane firing a 99 in trap.

DSC_0794 “Interest is growing at clubs and high schools across the state every year,” said Eric Nikkola, Athletic Director at Rearden High School and Vice President of WAYESS.

“Local gun clubs, such as the Spokane Gun Club, often sponsor youth clay target shooting teams as well as Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs in schools,” Nikkola said. As a nonprofit national program, USAYESS forms state foundations across the country which then support local teams within the state and introduce, grow, support, and educate youth and their families on firearm safety, shooting sports, and wildlife conservation and habitat.

“We want shooting sports to be thought of the same way as other athletic sports,” Nikkola said.

“Clay target sports is the fastest growing sport in high schools and colleges across the country,” said Charles Worthing, President of WAYESS.

DSC_0510 Abbi Denmark, 18, of Spokane is doing her part in that respect.

The Freeman High School senior was the top female shooter in last weekend’s competition and fourth overall with 276. But that was just the latest stop on her journey.

“I picked up a shotgun for the first time when I was a freshman,” she said. “I placed dead last in my first competition, breaking only one target out of 50.”

After six months of determined practice with the Spokane Gun Club youth team, she finished fourth in the state girls’ competition. She’s gone on to win regional and state titles through her high school career and finished third in national competitions last year.

“It’s paid off,” she said. “I have a shooting scholarship and will be going to Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska.”

“We are seeing more girls joining teams and competing equally with the boys,” Said Worthing.

“Adults with deep roots in the shooting sports step up for the kids,” Nikkola said.

DSC_0621“We had about 40 adult volunteers out there, including two at each of the 16 sporting clays stations,” he said. “These are people who want their sports to grow, and we’re being successful in many ways.”

“Although we lose our seniors every year, the overall number of participants is increasing. And last year, the Colville team went on to win the combo of all three events in the San Antonio national shoot.”

“There were no perfect scores but several 99 out of 100 scores,” Nikkola said. “That’s incredible. One of the shooters on my (Spokane) team shot 98 of 100 in trap and placed fourth.”

IMG_2380 To learn more about the Washington Youth Education in Shooting Sports, visit: www.wasctp.org. or contact Eric Nikkola at (509)944-1642.

Quinn McElvain – SST, 8th grade

The WAYESS State Shoot was one of my favorite shooting experiences. I was skeptical about shooting sporting clays at a different location than our trap and skeet club, but it ended up working out great.  It was only a 30-minute drive, and it really brought our team together. We learned new things about each other, which helped our team communication during sporting clays.  We also gave each other tips and advice for skeet and trap. I also got to meet a few people from other teams and get to know them!

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