Traditionally known for its college football teams and producing some of the National Football League's best players, Tennessee has developed another sports claim to fame over the last few years: producing the largest crop of youth trapshooters in the country.
The best of the best of Tennessee's more than 1,500 Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) trapshooters will square off in Nashville this weekend (June 24 and 25) at the SCTP Tennessee Trapshooting Championships. Teams competing at the event, which will include more than 500 young shooters, are the top finishers from four regional championships. The competition will be held at the Tennessee Clay Target Complex.
"This is the Super Bowl of Tennessee youth trapshooting," said Zach Snow of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which developed and coordinates SCTP on the national level. "All of these teams from around the state have worked very hard to get to Nashville, and we will certainly see some of them at the top come August at the SCTP nationals."
Last year, Murfreesboro's Blackman Middle School went on to capture gold at the national championships in the junior novice division, while the Wingmasters from Paris took silver in the same division. Other top finishers at nationals were Shelbyville Central High School, which won gold in the senior novice division, and the Big Springs Big Shots of Murfreesboro, which took second in the rookie division.
All Tennessee teams that competed in the state's East, West, Middle and Plateau regional championships are eligible to attend the SCTP National Trapshooting Championships, slated for Aug. 8 and 9 in Sparta, Ill. In 2005, more than 1,500 youths from nearly 40 states traveled to Vandalia, Ohio, for the competition.
Active in Tennessee for six years, SCTP has seen phenomenal growth. Fifteen young shooters participated the first year; more than 1,500 were involved in the months leading up to this year's state championship. Tennessee has more SCTP shooters than any other state, thanks to strong support from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF).
"The success of Tennessee's program can be attributed to an impressive network of dedicated parents and volunteers and to strong support and guidance from its state wildlife agency," Snow said.
SCTP in Tennessee is a cooperative effort between TWRA, TWF and NSSF. The program is designed to instill in participants safe firearms handling, commitment, responsibility, leadership and teamwork.
Nearly 40 states and more than 8,000 youths take part in SCTP. Nationally, SCTP's popularity is booming. In 2005 alone, overall participation in the program grew by over 50 percent, not to mention an 84 percent increase among female participants.
For more information, visit www.nssf.org/sctp and www.tnwf.org/sctp.
l SCTP is the nation's premier clay target sports team program
l Tennessee has more SCTP participants than any other state
l More than 1,200 competed in Tennessee's East, West, Middle and Plateau regionals leading up to this weekend's state championships
l Nearly 40 states and more than 8,000 youths take part in SCTP
l Female participation is up dramatically in SCTP, rising 84 percent last year alone
l In Tennessee, SCTP is supported by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Wildlife Federation