A tireless teacher dedicated to the advancement of the shooting sports, Mike Simpson is USA Shooting’s Coach of the Year for 2013. For more than 15 years, Simpson has developed and mentored youth out of his South Georgia facility in hopes of spurring an Olympic dream in some of them and providing structure, opportunity and an outdoor outlet for all of them.
Simpson owns and operates the South Georgia Youth Shooting Club and is having a tremendous impact on the shotgun discipline as demonstrated by his 2012 season of success that included numerous medals and event highlights.
Those accolades included a USA Shooting National Championships bronze medal, a Junior Olympic National Title as well as a Junior Olympic Bronze medal. At the Scholastic Clay Target (SCTP) Championships, the officially recognized grassroots development program of USA Shooting, Simpson’s team earned the top-two places in both the collegiate and senior divisions while also walking away with the gold in Double Trap as well.
This year the program added a National Championships Junior bronze medalist while developing shotgun shooters Will Hinton and Tyler Lirio continue to benefit from Simpson’s instruction as Hinton is a member of USA Shooting’s National Junior Team while Lirio is a member of the 2013-14 Junior Olympic squad.
Recognized for his ability to mentor young competitors in the game, Simpson was named an Assistant National Team coach by National Team Coach Todd Graves in 2013. As such, he coached a Junior Team in Suhl, Germany and helped guide Kim Bowers to a Silver Medal in Trap and Will Hinton to a fifth-place finish in Double Trap.
Simpson has been training young shotgun shooters for more than 15 years at the bunker near his home. He improved the South Georgia Youth Shooting Club over the years as the number of youth seeking to train there continues to grow. Several years ago, USA Shooting named Simpson’s South Georgia Youth Shooting and Bridge Creek Clays a Certified Training Center, one of just eight in the country that concentrates on providing international-style shotgun training for those wanting to pursue Olympic dreams.
Simpson has coached Junior Teams and individual shooters in 4-H, SCTP, the International disciplines to 26 State and National Championships over the years. In addition, he averages six clinics each year focusing on intermediate to advanced athletes striving to refine fundamentals, vision and mental capabilities.
Simpson says he is pushing to get more youngsters involved in the Scholastic Clay Target Program, which provides youngsters another avenue for competition in trap and skeet. “The kids are my passion,” Simpson said recently, and then he wondered out loud, “I’d like to know how many kids we’ve touched and turned around. It’s amazing.”
Simpson also coaches the Florida State University shotgun team and has taken it to several recent competitions.
Founded in 1990, Bridge Creek in Hartsfield, Ga., has introduced hundreds of kids to the outdoors and helped them chase Olympic dreams by hosting Scholastic Clay Target Programs and USA Shooting clinics.
The children that attend the programs at Bridge Creek for the most part have never been exposed to hunting or shooting sports. Through their “Step Outside Day” clinic, kids ranging in ages from nine to nineteen come and enjoy the great outdoors and learn the basics of firearms safety and shotgun shooting sports.
“Over the years, we’ve been able to share something very special with all these kids,” said Simpson. “It allows us to help kids across the board, to pursue a dream but to really touch lives and give them a sense of self-worth. They get more than just shooting; they get a new found love.”
Outside of that, Coach Simpson is strong community leader stressing life values and self-worth to tomorrow’s leaders. He takes part in supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and fundraisers for the Ronald McDonald House and Sherriff’s Boys Ranch.
Image courtesy USA Shooting