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Clay target shooting team is in the works towards becoming a club

Organization plans to compete in collegiate and charity events

By Sydney Wegner
On September 4, 2015

ASU has a new opportunity to reach out to incoming students that have competed in clay target shooting in high school who are choosing where they want to further their education.

The ASU Clay Target Team is not an official club yet but applied to become an official student organization on Aug. 27, Kurtis Neal, Director of Human Resources, said.

Freshman Matthew Valdez contacted Neal, the sponsor for ASUCTT, to help get the club started.

Valdez transferred to ASU from Cisco College in Abilene, and is majoring in biochemistry. Valdez said he decided to start the organization because of his passion for shooting clays and he said that he knew the club would gain a lot of interest because of the community.

“The organization will be great to have here at ASU because a lot of people around here in Texas grew up shooting, so these people that are interested in shooting can join and have some fun while participating in something that is school related,” Valdez said.

High school students throughout the nation participate in clay target shooting as their chosen sport, Neal said. ASUCTT will make ASU a choice for students who want to continue to shoot and participate in their sport during their college career, Neal said.

ASUCTT plans on reaching out to local organizations such as 4-H, a network of organizations for youth around the world.

“Not only does it help the 4-H program, it can encourage students to go to college and even to ASU because they will know we have a clay target team,” Valdez said.

There are many opportunities for students if they join the organization, Valdez said. Students will be able to meet new people who have similar interests as them and they will get the chance to represent ASU at local charity shoots.

The organization plans on conducting fundraisers to pay the registration fees for registered and collegiate shoots, Valdez said. There is a $50 fee for students and $100 fee for faculty members to join.

“We do not want these prices to scare people off, but members will get their money’s worth,” Valdez said. The team will be doing most of their shooting at the San Angelo Claybird Association, Valdez said.

“We plan on getting members signed up for registered shoots with Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association, National Sporting Clays Association and also do local competition shoots that they hold for charities,” Valdez said. “We’re hoping to get entered in collegiate shoots.”

The expectation is that the team will begin competing and representing ASU at events, Neal said. Many other institutions such as Tarleton, West Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Schreiner University, Texas A&M, Trinity University and others have fielded clay target teams for many years now. With its own team, ASU will now be able to compete with these institutions and perhaps represent ASU on a national level as well, Neal said.

The only requirement is for students to have a shotgun to shoot with. If members don’t have safety glasses and ear plugs, they will be supplied, along with shooting vests or shell hulls, Valdez said. ASUCTT has been contacted by a gun shop that would like to offer student discounts or layaway for students who need a new gun, Valdez said.

Members will be taught proper gun safety and hunter etiquette. Alongside the typical officer positions that are elected to lead the organization, the ASUCTT will also have a designated Safety Officer, Neal said. Gun safety, range safety and shooting safety will be points of training that will be mandatory to maintain active membership. The Safety Officer will ensure compliance with training and will also be proactive in addressing potential concerns pertaining to safety, Neal said.

“When dealing with firearms there cannot be even one mistake and I feel that this sentiment can and will become the leading point of the culture for this organization,” Neal said.

Students that haven’t shot before shouldn’t feel intimidated because the organization isn’t just for students who have been shooting their whole lives, Valdez said.

“Clay target shooting can be as much about personal growth and development as it is about competing with other shooters,” Neal said.

One of the most appealing aspects about shooting sports is that it does not require the participant to be a certain gender, athletic or a good shooter, Neal said.

“We do plan on having to teach members, but clay shooting is like any other sport, you have to practice to get better,” Valdez said.

There are currently at least 40 students interested in joining the organization, Valdez said.

“I chose to join because I wanted to get more involved in campus activities,” Shaylee Thomas, junior, said. “I already shoot clays outside of school so I figured why not do it with the school as well and meet new friends that enjoy doing the same things as I do.”

The organization plans on meeting once a month, and for the time being has a scheduled shooting day once a week, Valdez said.

Neal shares in Valdez’s passion and said he started competing with target shooting at an early age.

“Clay target shooting has been a part of my life for the last 13 years,” Neal said. “Not until I was in graduate school here at ASU did I experience the different sports surrounding clay target shooting.”

Neal said that he shoots sporting clays as a hobby, for competition and for charity.

“I have always enjoyed competition with others and the internal discipline and self-competition that clay target shooting provides,” Neal said. “Developing interest and sharing the sport have always been a big part of clay target shooting and I feel that the organization will support that for the entirety of the student body here at ASU.”

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