USA Shooting Team athletes will benefit from the $250,000 raised as part of the inaugural National Sporting Clay Cup, July 10-12, at the American Shooting Center in Houston, Texas. The national fundraiser, chaired by USA Shooting Board member and Vice President Butch Eller, was the first major philanthropic push on behalf of a team that has one enthusiastic goal in mind: medal success in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“We couldn’t be more impressed with the enthusiastic support this first-year event received,” said USA Shooting Executive Director/CEO Bob Mitchell. “The cost of success is always increasing and our ability to improve as a Team and organization is reliant on the goodwill of those who choose to support USA Shooting. It is our desire that these types of events create opportunities for the shooting sports industry and our supporters to rally behind our team. We sincerely thank all those involved for making this event successful.”
The event began with a major benefactor dinner on July 10 at the historic Palm Restaurant in Houston where USA Shooting Team members outfitted Phillip Sarofim with a one-of-a-kind Team shooting vest for his and his family’s contributions to the team throughout the years, and in particular, as HOA benefactor for the event. Auction proceeds during this night alone helped raised $66,000 to benefit the team.
Planning is already underway for a 2016 National Sporting Clay Cup in June of that year to help prepare our 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams for medal success in Rio de Janeiro.
Fifty teams participated in the VIP Sporting Clays Shoot on July 11 with two different courses of fire. The Team of Montie Sims, Clark Walraven, Byron Justin and Ron Honefenger took the win on the Gold Course with Doug Ward’s 97/100 capturing High Overall. The White Course was dominated by Alan Joiner and his score of 97/100 that led him to the individual bragging rights while also leading his team of JD Wilbanks, Clay Shock and Jeff Birmingham to the overall team victory.
The main event took place July 12 as a difficult 75-target Sporting Clay course greeted patrons upon arrival. Enthusiasm was boosted by the announcement that a brand new Rolex watch was available for the High Individual award winner. That energized Diego Duarte enough to shoot a clean round of 75 and take the overall win following a shoot-out with Clark Walraven. The winning team, with a score of 284/300, included Willie Hinz, Chris Keyser, Keith Moore and Craig Hill.
USA Shooting was well represented with 11 team members, including four Olympians, participating in the event. Hometown hero, 2008 Olympic gold medalist and current World Champion Glenn Eller was the headliner throughout. He was joined by his Double Trap teammates Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania), a 2012 Olympian and two-time World Cup winner this season, as well as Derek Haldeman (USAMU/Sunbury, Ohio). Other Olympians participating included rifle expert Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts), who finished seventh in her first Olympic Games in London, along with three-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Jason Turner (Rochester).
National Team athletes and Olympic hopefuls Ryan Hadden (USAMU/Pendleton, Oregon), Seth Inman (USAMU/Independence, Missouri), Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa), Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana), and Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) also were in attendance.
Special thanks to the following organizations and individuals who took the initial steps to ensuring USA Shooting success: Fayez Sarofim & Co., American Shooting Centers, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Dr. James Lally, Catherine and Corey Kruse, Smith & Wesson, Colonel D. D. Behrens, Main Street Capital, Blocker Drilling, Coppell Construction, David Mafrige Real Estate, Womble Company Inc., Alliance Graphics, Extreme Energy Services, Houston Safari Club, AAR, Inc., Briley Manufacturing, and Oasis Energy.
“It takes a lot of energy to jump into something like this and make it successful,” said Eller. “But when you look at beneficiaries, the athletes of USA Shooting, you know you’re doing it for all the right reasons. This year’s success hinged on creating an event that was meaningful and enjoyable for those with an appreciation for the USA Shooting Team. Based on the money raised, I believe we’ve done that. Now, we’re already working hard on how to achieve greater depth and opportunity with fundraising and making this event much more national in scope.”
The USA Shooting Team is off to a tremendous start in an all-important year that is highlighted by the 2014 World Shooting Championship this September in Granada, Spain. The event is the biggest shooting event in the world and will feature 81 U.S. Team members in competition with the first Olympic qualifying spots on the line. The Team has competed in four World Cup events this year, piling up 16 medals including 13 in the shotgun disciplines.
For event pictures, look here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usashooting/sets/72157645690879515/
Logo courtesy USA Shooting Team