UTM Clay Target Team aims students in the right direction
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 15:09
In November 2006, Martin offered a 2-hour physical activity class for clay target shooting. This class coupled with a large amount of student interest led to the Clay Target Club being formed.
By 2008, the club was thriving with over 50 members. Students were willing to sacrifice time and effort to create a team that would be ready to compete against other teams across Tennessee. Eventually, as the number of participants continued to increase, UTM found that without an official practice field, they could no longer accommodate the students adequately and the class could no longer be offered.
However, the student support continued and the team became a “club sport.” The team continues to compete around the state, practicing at Coach Steve Vaughn’s house. Because this team is considered a “club sport,” the students run the team and Vaughn is a volunteer.
When asked why he volunteers year after year, Vaughn just smiles. He fondly recalls a student he had a few years back who was headed nowhere and almost dropped out of college, but because of the Clay Target Team and the advice Vaughn gave him, he graduated and now has a full-time job.
“I don’t know what I said to him, but I must have said it to him enough times in enough ways that it got through to him. Because I made a difference in even one student’s life … well, that’s why I still volunteer,” Vaughn said.
Now, the team has a new faculty adviser, Steve Vantrease, and the team is more optimistic than ever. Suddenly, the goal of having a team practice field is not so far away. The main problem is finding the land to build on. In the face of this daunting task, Vantrease still finds the time to joke about their field, saying he wants to be the first university in Tennessee to have their own bunker on their shooting range.
Vantrease decided that the Clay Target Team was the place for him after seeing how successful the students were at supporting the club.
“Once I talked to the members of this club, I had to be part of it. I wanted to see what they could accomplish with more support. They are going to some positive places,” said Vantrease.
Positive places such as the Junior Olympics, in which they competed last year. The team also travels to San Antonio each year to compete in the National Intercollegiate Shotgun Championships, and last year they earned 7th place out of the 30 teams in their division. The team also competes in many local state competitions.
The team is still growing, with a big turnout of experienced, competitive shooters attending the first meeting this year. The members of this club are dedicated enough to run their own team. They understand their responsibilities as members of the team, even accounting for each box of ammo they shoot.
The team also stresses how important it is to shoot safely. All members are required to have at least one gun safety course and pay close attention to the coach’s lessons. They are also taught about the honor system one has to follow when around guns. The team also stresses how important school is, and how it has to come first. Member Shelby Gean, an agriculture education major has the club to thank for meeting her fiancé.
“Because of shooting, I can help this club improve and also have the chance to teach my future children what I love to do,” Gean said with a laugh.