McDERMOTT – Simply put, in the local Northwest School District, the Mohawks are already emerging in the sport of clay shooting.
That’s because, for the first time last spring, Northwest offered — and the numbers followed suit — a shooting sports team, consisting of 23 total student-athletes encompassing Northwest High School and Northwest Middle School.
How well did this first campaign go?
The Mohawks placed third as a team at the USA Clay Target League Tournament from Ohio in Delaware in mid-June, while earning second place honors at the SCTP State Tournament around the same time.
To be fair, if there’s such a “Cinderella” story in clay shooting, then the Mohawks were wearing that glass slipper, according to Gary Bennett, who oversees the program as one of its coaches. .
Bennett’s daughter, Arika, is the current head coach of Northwest Sports Shooting.
“It really is a ‘Cinderella’ success story. So far, we’ve already exceeded our expectations. We thought maybe now was a good time to try and do it (start shooting the athletic team), and the Northwest School Board (of Education) agreed. We had a lot of individual and team accomplishments, and other teams, established shooting programs, pointed out to us at the state tournament what a strong group we were,” said Gary Bennett. “We had a great turnout, and to finish third out of 16 teams is a great accomplishment for us.”
Per Bennett, Northwest is one of 22 sports shooting programs in the state, which also include Southeast Ohio teams from Gallia Academy and Huntington.
The schools are separated by size into two divisions (I and II), as the Mohawks are members of the USA Clay Target League and the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP).
Their regular season shooting range is the Pike County Coonhunters Club, as there are two types of clay target shooting: Trap and Skeet.
Both have been around for hundreds of years and have evolved significantly from a training exercise for hunters to stay in shape during the “off season” of hunting to both competitive and Olympic sports.
In trap shooting, shooters stand in a line and aim at targets that are thrown from a station placed partially underground.
The target usually moves away from its release point, there are five positions and the same number of shooters alternate their positions so that they can take a shot from each target.
In skeet shooting, the target is thrown from two stations, the setup usually includes a pitch, and there are eight numbered stations.
With a group of five shooters, they move on the semi-circular terrain between the stations sequentially.
The basic differences are that in Trap participants fire five times from each station while in Skeet they move clockwise to each station and fire – depending on the number of targets released .
In Trap, targets usually move away from the shooter while in Skeet they move closer or further away from the shooter.
Northwest’s 23-member unit included student-athletes in grades six through 12, as competitors are divided into four categories: entry/beginner, intermediate/entry, senior/junior class and senior/varsity class.
But Bennett said that beyond any achievement, the top priority in shooting sports is safety.
“Safety comes first. There are strict safety rules. The rules are outlined before each practice and tournament, and they are not to be debated or compromised. You are competing with these safety rules in place, and there are no guns at school,” he said. “The ‘if you see something, say something’ is taken very seriously.”
Bennett said recognized shooting sports began in 1991 and since then more than 31,600 children and nearly 1,500 teams nationwide have participated.
No serious injuries have been reported, even with a million shots fired over the past three decades.
All competitors and coaches must successfully complete a shooting sport safety course prior to each year.
As for the major Mohawk awards, the individuals who made up the SCTP State Tournament Finalist Club included Aaren Penn, Seth Jenkins, Orville Tackett, Deke Tackett, and Rese Lute.
As part of the USA Clay Target League State Meet third place, senior Orville Tackett won first place for Males Varsity – and Emma Bragdon was the runner up for Female Novice.
Naturally, as Bennett explained, the Northwest program plans to “keep building.”
“It’s a big deal, so we want to see the program grow. We have a great group of parents who are involved, and while we want the kids to work hard and improve their shooting skills, our two main goals are always safety at every practice and every meet and have fun and enjoy yourself,” he said. “We are always looking to add sponsors, eventually we want to get into fundraising and we always want to have good equipment and supplies. The kids really enjoyed this first year, and there is already a lot of interest in building what we started.
In fact, the shooting season almost came to a halt – as Northwest qualified and took a team to the USA Clay Target League National Championships in Mason, Michigan last weekend.
Last week, and ending Saturday, July 16, the Mohawks competed in the SCTP National Championships in Columbus – at the Cardinal Shooting Center.
* * *
SCTP Regional Price
Remington Bennett – 2nd place U.S. Junior Average Senior/College Championship
Michael Peercy – 2nd place in the Youth Middle American Intermediate/Beginner Championship
Remington Bennett – 3rd place at SCTP regionals for senior/varsity
Orville Tackett – 2nd place at SCTP Regionals for Senior/Junior Varsity
USA Clay Target League
Conference Season Award
Team Northwest placed 2nd for Team High Point Average
Remington Bennett – 1st place best men in season average
Orville Tackett – 3rd place in men’s season high point average
Thatcher Webb – 4th place for men’s average high points of the season
Aaren Penn — 6th place for men’s season high point average
Boston Wolfe – 9th place for men in season high average
Audrina Brewer — 9th Place Women’s Season High Average
USA Clay Target League
State Season Rewards
Remington Bennett – 1st place High overall average
Remington Bennett – 1st Place Men’s High Average
Orville Tackett – 5th place in men with a high average
Aaren Penn — Top 25 men with a high average
Thatcher Webb – Top 25 High Average Men
USA Clay Target League
State Tournament Rewards
The North West team placed third
Orville Tackett – 1st Place Varsity Men
Emma Bragdon – 2nd place in Novice Women
SCTP State Tournament Rewards
Team North West placed 2nd in varsity senior/junior (Aaren Penn, Seth Jenkins, Orville Tackett, Deke Tackett, Reese Lute)
Orville Tackett — 2nd in senior/junior university ranking
Aaren Penn – 3rd place in senior/junior college
Thatcher Webb — 5th Intermediate/Entry Level
Caden Diesel Ferguson – 6th Mid/Entry Level
Pictured are members of the Northwestern High School and Northwestern Middle School shooting sports team, who accepted a prize in the USA Clay Target League tournament in Delaware .
Remington Bennett (left), Emma Bragdon (middle) and Orville Tackett (right) field players representing Northwest High School at the recent USA Clay Target League tournament in Delaware.
Pictured are members of the Northwest High School and Northwest Middle School shooting sports team, who won prizes at the USA Clay Target League tournament June 18 in Delaware.
Pictured are members of the Northwest High School and Northwest Middle School shooting sports team, which was a freshman program and included 23 student-athletes.
Contact Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email to [email protected]Or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved