Clay target team wins national title in first season
On March 26, the GC Clay Target team of 13 members traveled to San Antonio, Texas for a week to compete in the 2018 Association of College Unions (ACUI) Division 4 national championship. Despite being a first year club sport, the team came home with a big win.
The team began in the fall of 2017 by Ansley Wallace, a GC student from Eatonton, Ga. who loves clay target shooting. Now president of the team, Wallace grew up hunting and fishing. She began clay target shooting in high school, where she won three state championships and joined a travel shooting team, Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP).
However, her first practice was very discouraging.
“I cried my first practice,” Wallace said. “I did so bad, but I fell in love with the sport from that moment. I told myself this is actually something I want to be good at, so I focused in on it after that.”
When she was going through the process of searching for colleges, she decided she wanted to come to GC, but she still wanted to continue her career in clay target shooting.
Throughout the summer of 2017, before she began classes at GC, Wallace went through a very long, in-depth process of creating a club team.
“When I was at SCTP nationals, I was actually writing the constitution of bylaws before I had ever started school in the fall at GC,” Wallace explained.
Wallace has done a great job so far at leading the team. Her attitude, dedication and organization plays a major factor into their success for the first year.
“We have had very minimal supervision over the team because of how well run they are,” said Drew Bruton, the associate director of wellness and recreation at GC.
Bruton said he is very impressed with Wallace and the rest of the team winning a national championship their first year.
“Since I have been at GC, only two club sport teams have won a national title,” Bruton said.
Junior Tommy Royal of Cochran, Ga. performed well at nationals, winning head overall of the sporting clays event.
“In order to be successful, it takes having a practice routine and sticking to it,” Royal said. “It also takes having positive attitude.”
Royal has competed since the eighth grade, so his experience and practice have definitely helped him this season.
After seeing a flier in the Arts and Science building about the new club team, Hayden Dempsey began competitive shooting for the first time this year. The beginner stage did not stop him from winning many individual accolades.
“In the beginning, they never used my scores, but at nationals, they did use [my] scores, so I was pretty happy about that,” Dempsey said.
When he first arrived at nationals, he said it was overwhelming.
“There were over 900 shooters competing,” Dempsey said. “In the final rounds, I was tied and had to shoot in a shoot off. It was a really good experience. It helped me shoot under pressure. When we won, I honestly couldn’t believe it.”
According to Wallace, because the team was in its first year, they were placed in Division 4 but will move up in divisions because of their success.
The team is already preparing for next season by recruiting people to join the team next year and continuing to practice their shooting.