Student marksman ranks nationally
November 1, 2018
Haines Hot Shots marksman Cade Clay placed in the top 10 at a national shooting competition last month in Carson City, Nevada.
Clay, a junior and one of 13 high school shooters on Alaska's varsity shooting team, placed seventh among high school shooters in the national competition that puts them alongside college athletes, where touring college coaches scout young talent.
Clay has been shooting since he was 10 years old. He practices once a week for about two hours on the trap field at the shooting range. Haines doesn't have a clay or skeet range so he doesn't get much practice for those competitions. "It's not that hard," Clay said. "I think duck hunting has helped me with that a little bit."
Head coach of the statewide program Neil Moss said he's watched Clay grow up and become more mature and proficient in his sport. "We always like to see the kids do well obviously, but some of them take to it a little better and his ability to adapt and read a target he hasn't seen before speaks volumes to what his ultimate capabilities will be."
Clay has made best use of the opportunity he does have to practice shooting trap. Clay estimates he has shot more than 5,000 rounds through his shotgun in about a year. His firearm has been used so many times that it broke during the state competition. "I went to shoot and my gun went click," Clay said. "I shook it and I could hear the firing pin that snapped off. I could hear it rattling in there. I ended up shooting one of my teammate's guns."
To be eligible for the state's varsity team, a shooter must have high shooting scores and at least a 3.0 GPA.
Out of a maximum score of 100, Clay shoots high 80s in trap, and low 80s and high 70s for skeet and clays.
At the national event in Nevada, Clay competed against 45 other high school athletes. Clay said college scouts were there observing the shooters and if the opportunity arose, he'd like to go to college on a scholarship.
Clay said he loves the individualism inherent in shooting sports. "The fact that it's individual and it's just you and the gun. There's no one else around you. If you mess up, you mess up. The fact that it's just solely on yourself."
In February, Clay will travel to Savannah, Georgia for an even larger national competition where four colleges that offer full-ride shooting scholarships will be in attendance.
The Haines chapter of the Friends of the NRA provided Clay with travel money and a new shotgun with proceeds from its Oct. 27 fundraiser.