Straight-shooting students excel

STUDENT STRAIGHT SHOOTERS know how to compete in a very structured, safe and disciplined sports activity, namely to shoot clay targets with shotguns. And it is all conducted as part of the school approved sports program. In this case, the students from five area middle and senior high schools did very well this year. They improved and grew in knowledge, safety, team work and discipline to participate in a firearm sport.

In 2006, the Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program, Inc. (SCTP) was established. It is committed to supporting organized youth, high school and colligate clay target shooting programs across Iowa. They are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with part of their goal to raise funds support for the program and their coaches. A volunteer board of directors assists in managing how funds are used to allow for maximum support for area youth partaking in area, regional and state competition clay bird shoots. Toward the end of an academic year, Cedar Falls buzzes with more than 3,500 youth from all over the state who come to see how good they can be individually and as a team at the State Clay Target competition.

Kids have varied interests in sports. Which one or ones is the right fit for them as a person and how they can contribute to the school is an on-going decision. The choices are out there. While some like to play baseball, softball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, swim, track or other in addition to normal academic requirements, some students chose a shooting sport as part of their focus.

Shotguns and clay targets is one choice available. It is called Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program. We are fortunate to have coaches, sponsors, volunteer board members, supportive parents, supportive school officials in favor of SCTP. In each school, kids hear about and express interest in learning the safe, ethical, focused, and fun competition of shooting shotguns at fast moving clay bird targets. Coaches know that they can take a person who has never held a shotgun, or ever fired a shotgun, and learn the basics of hand-eye coordination to look at the target and allow a well fitted firearm to almost instinctively follow the target. The trigger pull becomes part of the process. Busted clay birds result.

Yes there will be missed targets. Again, coaches watching from the sidelines can observe things the shooter does well or not so well. As in any sport, getting the basics instilled is critical. Practice finds the strengths and weaknesses of every shooter. Careful observation by coaches and a willingness for students to learn how to improve results in fewer misses and more and more broken targets. Smiles of satisfaction increase with time as confidence builds in each boy or girl. Another way to say this is “practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect.” This maxim applies to any sport or activity. Young people need to find how this applies to every endeavor in life.

A lot has been written about youth activities that allow them to temporarily unplug from the electronic digital age of communication. We as adults can assist in prudent pulling of the plug on electronics, and allow time for one-on-one outdoor activities, where a balance can be taught between the real world and the synthetic world. Teaching what is important over what is trivial is a task that must be undertaken with careful nurturing. If a shooting sport fits the interest of a kid, explore how to have fun and learn at the same time. Seek out experts in that field of interest. Sit down for a face-to-face conversation. Watch other youth who have advanced through the ranks in that activity. See if there is a fit for a youth you know.

Today’s group photo of 26 area youth is one place to begin. You may know them. In alphabetical order they are Blaedyn Benscoter, Ray Callaway, Nate Casady, Seth Cook, Kelsey DeSchamp, Sam Dixon, Logan Dolezal, Ethan Gannaway, Greg Dominic, Cody Karsjen, Noah Kellogg, Lincoln King, Brock Kinney, Dawson Kitzman, Sage Lewis, Connor McCrary, Berry Moore, Tyler Nablo, Zac Osgood, Taevin Perisho, Tyler Perisho, Logan Proffit, Tyler Reeder, Sydney Vilez, Tucker Wall and Ross Wolken.

Congratulations to all of these fine youth for taking on a sport that requires the utmost of discipline, safety, teamwork, and ethics. They are all straight shooters who excel.

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“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”

– Ashley Montagu,


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at P.O. Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.