New Student Organization Aims to bring Students Interested in Clay Target Sports Together

December 19, 2016

The University of South Carolina Aiken’s new shotgun team is designed to bring students with similar interests in the clay target sports -- which includes the games of skeet, trap, and sporting clays – together.

“The team’s goal is to provide an opportunity for these students to improve their shotgun and clay target skills in a safe and educational manner and to create a campus interest in competitive shooting sports,” said Founder and President Alex Richardson, who is a 4-H Level I certified shooting instructor.

Members of the USC Aiken Shotgun Team practice their skills and engage in intra-club competitions, intercollegiate competitions with other college and university teams, and other open competition events through local, state and national clay target sports affiliated organizations.

“When I came to USCA last year, I wanted to continue the sport collegiately and knew there were others on campus with the same interest,” said Richardson, a long-time competitor through 4-H, the Scholastic Clay Target Program, shooting education programs through the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the Youth Shooting Foundation. 

He believes that with the opening of the Palmetto Shooting Complex in Edgefield and the growing popularity of youth shooting programs, the USC Aiken Shotgun Team could be a recruiting attraction for high school seniors who have been in the youth shooting programs and are looking to continue their passion for the sport while in college.  Recent competitive youth tournaments consistently drew more than 550 youth shooters from across the state.  

Many youth shooters join teams as early as 6th grade and continue their career through high school senior graduation. The veteran shooter says nearly 60 athletes in the 2015 State Tournament and that many more in 2016 were graduating high school seniors.

Richardson credits the university for being “extremely supportive” in making the shotgun team possible.  Approved as a sanctioned student organization earlier this year, the organization now boasts approximately a dozen members. 

Some of the members were competitive athletes on different shooting teams in high school.  Others have shotgun experience due to their interests in dove and quail hunting.  

“Clay targets are often thrown in patterns that mimic how dove and quail fly.  There is even a rabbit target that shoots out bouncing and jumping across the ground,” Richardson said. 

“So these members also have the skills that it takes to be successful in the clay target sports.”

He says despite their myriad backgrounds, shotgun club members work together as a team, each bringing his or her knowledge of the sport in order to mentor each other on the field.  

“One thing I want to do is build a co-ed community for the team. Some of the best shooters on the competitive teams I’ve been on in the past were ladies, and I am excited for the co-ed interest on campus,” said Richardson, Class of ’19.

The objectives of the USC Aiken Shotgun Team are based on the concepts of the programs Richardson has been part of in the past, including 4-H.  Through these programs, he’s learned – and now teaches to novice shooters and their coaches – safe shooting techniques.

To learn more about the team, to go:

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2017 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 19th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 12th time in first place.