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Dowagiac shooting team competes at nationals

Published 11:01am Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dowagiac's team of young trap shooters competed for the Scholastic Clay Target Program National Championship at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill., July 25-26. (Photo by LARRY LYONS)
Dowagiac's team of young trap shooters competed for the Scholastic Clay Target Program National Championship at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill., July 25-26. (Photo by LARRY LYONS)

SPARTA, Ill. – After their recent outstanding performance at the Michigan State Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Championship Dowagiac’s team of young trap shooters packed their guns and headed for the SCTP National Championship.

The weekend of July 25-26, teams of young shooters from all across the country gathered at the prestigious World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill. to compete for the national titles.

Dowagiac’s team of 17 shooters was Michigan’s sole representative.

SCTP is team oriented and the kids compete in squads of five shooters. There are different divisions defined by age and experience so each squad shoots within a division of like shooters.  Each person shoots at two hundred clay targets, one hundred each day, for a total of one thousand targets per squad.

Arriving at the Complex early Saturday morning to get in a few practice rounds the shooters discovered an already stiff wind was going to make for a difficult day.

Each day’s one hundred targets are shot in series of twenty-five and every shooter’s immediate goal is to break all twenty-five, much easier said than done. In fact, only two of Dowagiac’s shooters were able to overcome Saturday’s wind blown, erratic flying targets.

Collin Dussel defied the wind and posted a 25 straight. Seth Hargett shot his first ever 25 just weeks before at the Michigan State Championship. This time he amazingly doubled that, smashing 50 in a row.

Sunday the wind was on better behavior.

Dowagiac’s Brandon Hatch posted his first 25 straight ever.  Sydney Foote, Dowagiac’s only girl shooter, shot two 24s and two 25s for a total of 98, tying teammate Gideon Hebron’s 98 for Dowagiac’s high gun of the day.

Many of the team’s other shooters also posted scores in the 90s.

When the smoke cleared on Sunday afternoon the final standings were posted. Dowagiac’s varsity squad of Jason Hurrle, Shane Filley, Gideon Hebron, Seth Spaulding and Conner East couldn’t duplicate their state championship win and finished well down in their field of 72 squads.

Dowagiac’s Intermediate Advanced squad of Sydney Foote, Ethan Dussel, Mike Dussel, Travis True and Andrew Wild struggled with the wind on Saturday but caught fire on Sunday and tied for fifth place out of 31 in their division. They also posted their division’s highest Sunday score.

The team’s Intermediate Entry Level squad, Tyler Wade, Collin Dussel, Brandon Hatch, Emmitt Pullins and Bryce Younger came in a respectable seventh in their division. To round out a full squad Dowagiac’s Seth Hargett and Austin Francois teamed up with three shooters from Missouri and shot very well.

Head coach Craig Lyons was proud of everyone’s performance but emphasized that far more important than scores and standings was the overall experience.

“Many of the kids don’t get much opportunity to travel,” Lyons said. “Coming to such an awesome place and competing at this level develops character and responsibility. Many of the parents also came so it was a great family experience.”

Lyons said just being at the World Shooting and Recreation Complex with its three and a half miles of shooting ranges is a one of a kind experience. Many big firearm manufacturers were there and they provided a cook out, professional exhibition shooting shows and the opportunity for the kids to shoot a variety of fun games, mostly for free.
There were not only shotgun games, but cowboy action shooting and .22 shooting with pistol and rifle.

“And Kim Rhode, the women’s champion Olympic skeet shooter was there,” Lyons said. “She hung all her Olympic medals around one of our shooter’s necks for a photo. How’s that for inspiration?”

The entire team would like to thank their 2009 sponsors for making the trip possible.
Donations from the Dowagiac Conservation Club, Dussel’s Farm Market, KGB Concrete, Lyons Industries, Remax Shore Acres, Ryan Murray Expeditions, Scott Wade Construction, Spruce Ridge Golf Club, Steinman’s Shell, True’s Towing, Upstream Waters Landscape, Vylonis Contracting and Woodfire Italian Trattoria defrayed much of the travel and shooting expenses.

Lyons also said that his assistant coaches, Rob True, Skip and Peggy Harold, John Vylonis, Greg Steinman and Annette Lyons are invaluable.

“And I can’t forget my wife, Stephanie,” he added, “She does all the coordinating and paperwork.  She’s the one that brings it all together and makes me look good.”

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