Youth shooters compete for scholarships at the Palmetto Shooting Complex

2/10/2017

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Middle and high school students from across the state gathered at the Palmetto Shooting Complex at the National Wild Turkey Federation to compete in this weekend's South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Scholastic Clay Target Youth Trap and Skeet Championship. This year, they are competing for more than $14,000 in scholarships.

Friday and Saturday's invitation-only youth championship features more than 350 shooters. To receive an invitation, shooters must have placed in the top five in their respective division during one of the state’s qualifying shoots earlier this year.

Scott Stephens, SCDNR Scholastic Clay Target Sports coordinator, said 42 schools are registered in this tournament.

“The biggest thing this type tournament does is instills firearm safety in youth and adults,” Stephens said.

With national statistics showing the number of licensed hunters declining over the past few decades, Stephens said this type event is crucial to getting youth started on the right foot. All participants are required to take a hunter education course offered by SCDNR.

“We encourage adults to take the course, as well,” Stephens said, as many adults today haven’t grown up in a hunting family, unlike former generations.

Captain. Billy Downer, hunter and boater education officer for SCDNR, said the event is growing each year with the help of the Palmetto Shooting Complex.

“One of the major reasons why the Palmetto Shooting Complex is here today is because of the relationship George Thornton [NWTF CEO] made with the DNR,” Downer said. “This was the first major partnership between the state agency and a nongovernmental agency.”

He said SCDNR director Alvin Taylor and Thornton came up with the idea of the shooting complex, and SCDNR put $2 million towards the project from their share of dollars from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act. Those funds, also known as Pittman-Robertson funds, are generated from an excise tax applied to firearms, ammunition, firearm accessories, archery equipment and fishing supply sales. The funds are earmarked for conservation and hunter education, which includes shooting and target ranges.

“This is a platform for the DNR to launch all of our scholastic programs,” Downer said. It’s “putting your money where your mouth is.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation
When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.5 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit an historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights.

About Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.
The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit www.NWTF.org.

For more information, contact Pete Muller at (803) 637-7698

Article State
South Carolina