If you want to see the next generation of competitive clays shooters, look no further than the Association of College Unions International (ACUI). This non-profit organization is much broader than clays shooting or even sports as a whole. Its purpose is to bring together college union and student activities professionals from hundreds of schools across the globe. With that said, one of the many activities run by the ACUI team is Collegiate Clay Target Championships. While you may not have heard of ACUI, they've been at this or over 45 years. Since 2006, the shooting sports aspect has exploded with fresh injection of industry support.
ACUI Clays events are cross-discipline. Shooters have to compete in traditional sporting clays, skeet, and trap. The event scores teams by school, but individual shooters win awards for top finishes for each shooting discipline.
The national championship is fed by regional events throughout the country. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Lower East Coast Conference Championships at the Forest City Gun Club outside of Savannah, Georgia. Let's take a pictorial look at the event.
I followed a squad consisting of Emmanuel College and Clemson University shooters through the sporting clays portion of the course. Here, Richie Young of Emmanuel takes aim.
Alex McHale of Clemson unloads on a trap target. Note the shot cloud on the way to a clean break. He's shooting a Beretta 692 Sporting with 32" barrels by the way.
Shelby Evans of Emmanuel tore up the sporting clays course, windy day or not. She beat everyone there with a 99/100.
The first of a pair just beginning to break (right)
Stephanie Beardsley, representing Emmanuel College, takes aim on the clays course.
Hunter Baughman of Team Clemson smashes one.
If you look closely, you'll see the cloud of shot pellets about to bust this clay. These were fired from a brand new Beretta 692 Sporting model with 32" barrels. Note the wad at the bottom of the frame.
If you're proud of your team, why NOT spray paint your choke tubes bright orange? Austin Mogy (Clemson) did.
What's a shotgun competition without some awesome dogs? Here a University of Kentucky shooter takes a break to show some affection to Sadie, a four month old Boykin Spaniel.
It's a tiebreaker shootoff for the ladies. Libby Sabo (Clemson) and Stephanie Beardsley (Emmanuel) settle things the old fashioned way.
Tools of the trade.
When the smoke cleared, after a day and a half of shooting, Emmanuel College took top team honors, edging out Clemson by 6 targets out of 1,300 total. That's close folks! With hundreds of shooters representing a long list of colleges and universities throughout the south, this event was a sight to see.