(left to right) Colonel Chisolm Frampton, Samantha Langford, SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor, Cameron Hawkins. Langford and Hawkins received NWTF Guns of the Year for posting the tops scores in the male and female categories (photo credit - SCDNR)
EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Palmetto Shooting Complex recently welcomed more than 550 competitors for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' second annual Youth Sporting Clays Open.
"Our goal [with the scholastic clay target sports program] is to provide a safe environment where youth can enjoy shooting sports and learn discipline and focus that will carry over to the classroom," said Billy Downer, head of the DNR's Hunter Education program. "When we speak to coaches from our school teams, they often tell us that their best shooters are also at the top of their class academically."
The SCDNR and its partners awarded $33,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors and presented trophies and prizes to competitors across the 10 shooter divisions. They also provided ammunition for each youth shooter and covered the cost for all the clay pigeons broken during the March 5 shoot.
First-time competitor Peyton Geddings of Sumter's Wilson Hall enjoys the educational and social aspects of sporting clays. "I like that it is a group activity for me and my friends. We help each other out, and it is just a lot of fun." Her father, Wyman, also noted that sporting clays was good for kids, because it "keeps them active in the outdoors" and teaches them teamwork.
Event participation increased by more than 100 competitors from the inaugural event held last April, and it also marked the second time in two months the Palmetto Shooting Complex hosted events with 550 or more participants.
The Palmetto Shooting Complex is the hub for the NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative, a 10-year campaign to conserve habitat and preserve the nation's hunting heritage. Since opening its gates for shooting events this past spring, the NWTF has hosted more than 2,500 competitors across more than a dozen events.
"We are proud to partner with the SCDNR, one of the nation's leaders in youth sporting clays programing," said George Thornton, NWTF CEO. "Seeing these youth competitors, who are well-mannered, disciplined and safety conscious, will restore faith in our younger generations."
The Palmetto Shooting Complex was made possible, in part, through a $2 million Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration grant from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
About the NWTF
The NWTF is a nonprofit conservation organization that works daily to further its mission of conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage. Through dynamic partnerships with state and federal wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, improving more than 17 million acres of wildlife habitat and introducing 100,000 people to the outdoors each year. The NWTF was founded in 1973 and is headquartered in Edgefield, S.C. According to many state and federal agencies, the restoration of the wild turkey is arguably the greatest conservation success story in North America's wildlife history. To learn more, visit www.nwtf.org or call (800) THE-NWTF.