By Tom Sternal
For those needing yet another reason to yearn for your college days, the appeal just got a bit stronger. Building on its rapid-fire growth in American high schools, the USA Clay Target League is launching a new program for colleges and universities.
According to John Nelson, vice president of the USA Clay Target League: “In our first five years working with high schools, our growth doubled year over year. Last year we had 28,000 high school students in 20 states competing and graduated 6,000. Starting in the fall of 2019, we’re launching a league so that they have a place to shoot and compete in college. We announced almost a year in advance, and immediately more than a dozen institutions signed up.” Having a league of their own is a boon to both shooters and the institutions, improving student recruitment, engagement and retention.
The beauty of the USA Clay Target League is that it creates a safe, recreational and affordable league for youth to be introduced to trap, skeet, 5 Stand and sporting clays. And they do it in a creative, modern way, with teams competing virtually. “We didn’t want travel and cost to keep young people from getting involved,” Nelson said. The idea—tested first with high schools and now being applied to colleges—is that teams, ranging from five to 125 shooters, shoot at least once a week during a five-week period. Scores are uploaded online and compared to the scores from other teams in the conference. While there are winners and losers, the real goal is recreation and sustaining the sport. Naturally, safety always comes first. So far in high school competition triggers have been pulled 44 million times without a single reported injury.