Johnson City Press Tuesday, September 2, 2014

News Community Photos Local News Outdoors

Youth skeet team from Unaka Rod & Gun brings home state title

July 29th, 2013 11:57 am by Kayla Carter

Youth skeet team from Unaka Rod & Gun brings home state title

Abby Hooper and Sarah McInturff enjoy competing against the boys (Lee Talbert/Press Photo Editor)


Junior varsity members of the Unaka Rod & Gun Club won best in the state for skeet shooting at the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program State Championship recently.


This was the first time members formed teams to compete at the state level. It was also the winning junior varsity team’s first time competing together at that level in skeet.


“We beat everybody in the state in skeet,” said assistant head coach Mark McInturff. “We are state champions.” 


Winning team members include Andy Campbell, Jacob McInturff, who also won an all-state award, and Noah Sedam. 


“We only had one team, but our team was good enough not only to win the team award, but we also won the squad award,” Mark McInturff said.


“This is the first time we’ve won team at championships at all,” head coach Gilbert Rosenberger said. 


As an inside joke, the boys have been dubbed the Three Clay Stooges and each have assumed a character’s name — Larry, Moe and Curly. They even had hats made with their respective nickname.


“We’re not you’re average team out there,” Campbell said. “Everyone else is kind of serious and we like to cut up and just have fun.”


Campbell said the nicknames help with the team’s bond and subsequently they compete better together. 


“It’s something that only we have,” he said. “Everybody here is close, but we are just like an inside group.”


Sedam, also known as Chicken George among the club because he wears a signature fedora hat with a feather sticking out while he shoots, said he’s proud to bring back trophies to share with the entire Unaka club.


“A lot of people were actually surprised because since I’ve been here, we went from a team that didn’t win hardly ever to a state championship team,” Sedam said. 


They all agreed that shooting in as many local competitions as they can also helped them take home the state win.


“Our coaches in general support us a lot,” Campbell said. 


All members of the winning junior varsity team confirmed their participation next year and the team will move into the varsity bracket based on their ages.


“As long as the Lord will let us, we’ll probably be shooting until we’re 80 years old,” Jacob McInturff said.


Currently shooting as a varsity member, Grayson Wilcox hit 98 out of 100 in the state championship, which was his first time visiting the state’s capitol.


Wilcox said his experience with skeet and trap shooting will help him in many future endeavors.


“This will be my last year,” Wilcox said. “I’m going into the Marine Corps. This has taught me a lot about safety and to have appreciation for the Second Amendment. I’ve met a lot of great people, too.”


McInturff said he has witnessed a few more good qualities Wilcox picked up from participating in the sport.


“When he first started shooting, he would come out and get so frustrated,” McInturff said. “Through the sport, it has helped his character and his confidence and now he is leading the whole (Unaka) league.”


In the regional match held in White Pine, a junior varsity team won first place in trap and second place in sporting clays, which has multiple launch points for shooters to hit targets.


A junior varsity team also won second place in skeet during regionals.


Proving that the sport isn’t just for boys, Abby Hooper and Sarah McInturff, who was the junior varsity runner-up skeet state champion last year in Nashville, said they enjoy competing, especially against the boys in the club.


Hooper, who has won many accolades including a high lady trap shooting award in regionals, said she enjoys shooting because she is very competitive.


“It’s fun and I like it a lot,” Hooper said. “I always strive to beat Noah (Sedam). Not a lot of people think we can shoot.”


All coaches said they would like to see the whole team keep up the good work and would also like to see teams and participation grow.


“We try to emphasize that it’s not just about winning and that we want them to be the future of the local gun club,” Mark McInturff said. “Also, I’m really tickled with these girls getting out here and shooting. If they do nothing more than learn how to handle a firearm for protection, it’s a great thing.”


Each Saturday and Thursday starting in March, shooters practice their skeet and trap shooting. 


As the most recent addition and only member from Unicoi County, Gabe Whitson said he is glad he joined because he has met a lot of great people and learned a lot of life lessons through his participation.


“It’s good clean fun and there’s no age barrier,” McInturff said. “It’s something they can do all their life. For some of these kids, their favorite people to shoot with are up in their 70s and we try to teach them that it’s about character and composure, not just about winning. There’s a lot of character out here.”


Rosenberger said all shooters and volunteers invite anyone who may be interested in skeet, trap and sporting clays to join the Unaka Rod & Gun Club family.


For more information about the club, visit www.unakarodandgun.com, and for a full list of winners and scores from the 2013 TN SCTP, visit www.tnsctp.org.


Additional Photos

comments powered by Disqus