“Skeet” is a game that is built by the same standards no matter if you shoot in San Francisco or in London. The clays are always launched at the same angle, the same order, and at the same speed. Because of this, and that there are very few public school Clay Shooting teams in the state of Georgia, Richmond Hill High School (RHHS) is able to shoot “virtually” in the USA Clay Target League!
Clay Shooting Head Coach, Josh Davis, has been a life-long Richmond Hill resident and was a graduate of Richmond Hill High School. Coach Davis teaches Physical Fitness and Health and is the Offensive Line Coach for the football team. Coach Davis says last year was an eye opener in terms of understanding what it takes to be successful in this particular sport. “We started with nothing, and if not for the amazing community support, we would have never made it. As a hometown guy, it was truly heartwarming to feel the love and support shown by our community. We knew from the beginning that the cost of a season would be a huge endeavor for us going forward, and did not want that to be a deterrent for potential athletes,” Coach Davis explains. It is a big accomplishment for a program when the athletes are able to participate without paying anything out of pocket due to fundraising and donations!
With last year being the first year of competing, the Wildcats wanted to stay small to make sure they could accommodate their athletes and make their experience worth it. “In 2022, we had 15 shooters on our active roster with only one being female. This year, excitement has grown and we are climbing close to 25 shooters, with four females on the team. Coach Tony LeZotte assists me in the day-to-day operations and acts as one of our Range Officers when we practice and shoot,” says Coach Josh Davis.
Clay Shooting is not new to the area, in fact, 17 South Rod and Gun Club has been hosting other sporting clay teams for the last few years. When given the opportunity to be the host range for one of the first public schools in the state of Georgia, 17 South owners, Kyle Christensen, Jared Fruchtl, Toby Hansen, and their team, did not bat an eye and allowed them to call 17 South home!
If you aren’t familiar with the sport, it carries many different names: Sporting Clays, Clay shooting, Clay Target shooting, etc. Within the sport there are four disciplines: Skeet, Trap, 5-Stand, and Sporting Clays. Each discipline is similar, but they are also very different. In all disciplines, a tower is used to launch a clay through the air and the shooter takes aim and tries to “break” it. Clays are called “pigeons” because the game is supposed to resemble that of a form of bird hunting. The main difference between each is the trajectory of the clay pigeon and how the shooters rotate between stations. The Wildcats participate in the “Skeet” discipline. In Skeet, there are two towers (also called traps)—a high and a low. There are seven stationary spots, called stands, that are aligned in a semicircle between the two towers, with and 8th stand in the middle of the two towers. During competition, the shooters will be assigned to groups of five. The team will gather at the high house, with the first shooter on the first stand. On their signal, usually the word “Pull,” a Range Officer will release a clay pigeon, and the athlete will fire their shotgun to try to powder or break the pigeon. If they hit it, they get a point. The shooters will rotate through all stands accumulating 25 shots. Once a shooter is rotated through all stands and shot their 25 shots, they will have completed a round. A match for the league is complete when all shooters have shot two rounds.
In the USA Clay Target League, the size of the registered teams and creates conferences to include schools across the nation. “Last year we were put in the same conference as teams from Indiana and Illinois We do not know what league we will be in this year (registration closes March 20th), but we are hoping a few more local teams will have registered and we can compete against teams face to face,” says Coach Davis. The Wildcats began shooting on Tuesday, February 28th and will shoot every Tuesday through the end of the school year. They will hold several raffles as they go through the season. The first will begin with a Raffle by PFI in the beginning of March. The second will finish their season out, and that raffle will be driven by community donations. This was a huge hit last year and they hope to keep that excitement alive into 2023.