With foundation in place, upstart youth shooting club seeks support, participants
The Colusa County Youth Shooting Sports (CCYSS) program is well on its way to becoming a reality: It has held its 501(c)(3) status for more than two years, it has received nearly $28,000 in donations to date, and it now has a home at the skeet shooting range located at Colusa Industrial Properties.
The club’s new digs out at CIP — currently being leased to CCYSS for a dollar a month -— are in the process of being renovated and retrofitted to suit the club’s needs. Improvements and additions to the existing skeet range so far include the construction of trap houses, cement work, gravel, and more.
“We have come a very, very long way since we started,” CCYSS founder Sean Doherty said. “There have been a lot of donations with time, work, materials, and dollars. The county has been extremely supportive of this.”
While the groundwork had been laid, the work for the new program and its organizers has only just begun. According to Doherty, the club will need an additional $20,000 to move forward. The club will continue to seek donations, and is also looking for professional grant writers as they prepare to apply for a National Rifle Association grant, due on Oct. 20.
The only thing that is missing from the club’s new home are the trap machines, but CCYSS is missing an equally important ingredient: It still needs coaches and kids to get the program started for the upcoming season.
“Kids, coaches, dollars — we can use the help,” Doherty said.
If all goes according to plan, CCYSS will hold an introductory shoot in November and another in December, with practice beginning in earnest in January.
Doherty said he would like to have a minimum number of kids signed up prior to that date, and given the amount of interest he has seen so far, he doesn’t think it will be hard to reach his goal level of participation. The earlier the kids get signed up, the better, he added.
The facility has the capacity to accommodate much more than that, giving the club room to grow.
“We could have a 60-kid team pretty easily, on one shooting schedule,” Doherty said. “We could go up to 120, if we were to spread out the shooting days.”
The Colusa County Youth Shooting Sports Organization will compete as a part of the California Youth Shooting Sports Association Program, “a team based youth development program that uses participation in the shooting sports to provide its participants with a positive, life enhancing experience and is designed to instill in them a set of personal values or character traits that teaches fair play, individual responsibility, sportsmanship, self-discipline and personal commitment.”
Kids from grades 3-12 are eligible to compete in three separate divisions. The Rookie Division covers fifth graders and under. The Intermediate Division is for kids in sixth through eighth grade, and the Senior Division is open to high school age youth. The Intermediate and Senior divisions are further divided into two categories based on years of participation.
Any school age youths from twelfth grade and under, with the physical, mental, and emotional maturity to participate in a team shooting sport are eligible to compete. Participants must be students enrolled in a public or private accredited school or enrolled in a bona fide home school program, and must maintain a 2.0 GPA. A hunter’s safety certificate is not required.
CCYSS is open to both boys and girls, something Doherty made clear at a meeting of community supporters on Sept. 7.
“The world’s top intermediate shooter is a girl by the name of Molly DiMaggio, and she is a heck of a shooter,” he said.
The club also needs both a head coach and assistant coaches, who are required to be certified as a Level 1 Shotgun Coach by the National Rifle Association — a class that costs $150. There is a two-day course being offered in Kingsburg on Sept. 24-25, and another in Stockton on Nov. 19-20.
The head coach will oversee the team as a whole, while assistant coaches may focus on coaching a particular discipline, whether that be trap, skeet, or sporting clays, Doherty said.
Practices, when they start up in January, will take place in the evenings at Colusa Industrial Properties. The season runs through July, when the Junior Open Championship is held in Las Vegas, and Doherty noted that there would be some overlap with other sports.
There will be some small costs for participants, including a sign-up fee for the California Youth Shooting Sports Association, shells, and targets. CCYSS is currently working on a plan to obtain shotguns for interested individuals without one. The club is working to do as much as possible to minimize the cost of participation for both shooters and coaches, and the benefits could be huge for local youth.
“There are a lot of college scholarships for shooting out there. And maybe in the future, we could even send some kids to the junior Olympics,” Doherty said.
About the Program
CCYSS has been in the works for some time, with Doherty and his family initiating the process. His son, Gus Doherty, has been competing with Team Coon Creek out of Lincoln, and has proven himself to be a trap-shooting natural on a National Champion youth shooting team overflowing with talent.
In an interview with the Pioneer Review last year, Gus Doherty said that his penchant for trap shooting was, at least in part, attributable to his love for and experience with hunting. In that same story, his dad said he would like to see a team started in this county full of hunters.
He reiterated that point on Sept. 7: In Colusa County, where there are plenty of young wingshooters — from pheasants to doves to waterfowl hunters — CCYSS could have a significant talent pool to draw from. That talent pool, Sean Doherty said, is largely untapped due to the lack of opportunities in the area. With CCYSS, that won’t be the case any longer.
“It’s a really big deal and it is growing exponentially every year. There is nowhere in the west Sacramento Valley that is represented by a youth shooting club,” Doherty said. “On the whole west side of the valley, this is it.”
About the Sport
There are three different disciplines in the California Youth Sports Shooting Association program: trap, skeet, and sporting clays. The former two are Olympic sports.
“Trap is by far the most popular,” Doherty said.
Trap usually involves five person squads. Participants shoot at clay targets thrown from a trap house in front of the shooter, with the trap rotating randomly and presenting the shooter with a variety of shots. In a round of trap, each shooter gets 25 targets, and rotates along five stations from left to right. Five targets are thrown to each shooter at each station, the round of trap is completed.
Skeet is similar in many regards, with the same targets and the same number of shooters in a squad. However, targets are thrown at fixed angles from two trap houses on somewhat sideways paths to the shooter. There are a total of eight stations, with seven in a semi-circle around the field and one in the center of the trap houses. Some stations offer single targets, and others doubles.
Sporting clays is a clay target game played on a course and designed to simulate a number of different field-shooting situations. ■