From Broken to Champion: A Safe Haven in Shooting Sports
The Scholastic Clay Target Program opens the door of opportunity for tens of thousands of youth athletes across the country. As a youth development program, participation in the SCTP instills many qualities that prepare those young athletes for the future. Its team format also provides a sport where there is no such thing as being benched. Young athletes who may not find success or attention in traditional sports often find a home in clay target sports where your size, strength, or gender have no basis in becoming a champion. For that same reason, Texas athlete Dylan Little was able to find continued purpose in his participation in the SCTP:
“My freshman year, I was in an ATV accident over Spring Break. I was on the A-team Allen Freshman football team, I was leading the SCTP High Overall for the season by a nice lead and really excited as covid had ended our previous season.
They took me to a local hospital and then had to transfer me to a Trauma 1 facility after x-rays – broken back, broken hand and broken nose. The surgeon performed a spinal fusion from my L2 to L4 with two rods and eight screws and I had a 12 week recovery period where I couldn’t do anything besides walk a little each day. no lifting, no shooting, no running, only short walks.
The doctor said ‘no more contact sports, ever.’ I asked him, “Can I continue competitive shooting?”, he said you should be once healed. I also had two temporary pins in my hand and had surgery on that. Naturally, your friends are there to support and encourage you but the outpouring of support from other teams, coaches, competitors was so humbling and amazing. This program and the people involved have taught me how I want to help others who may struggle with a setback. This sport is more than shotguns, it’s a community and a family. It teaches respect, compassion, commitment and I’m honored to be a part of it.
The day my 12 weeks ended, I grabbed my shotgun and went to shoot skeet. God’s plan is bigger than mine. I’m not happy I broke my back but when I say I’m grateful for SCTP – no one understands how grateful I am. It’s given me a place to belong, something I’m good at and can still be a part of team. A chance to meet other kids from around the state with similar interests and also a place for me to excel with a talent that isn’t the normal football, baseball, etc. The shooting sport itself teaches patience, gun safety, responsibility and leadership. I’m very thankful SCTP is available at my school and to have teachers willing to help continue this sport.
“It is just remarkable how much he has overcome since his accident, said Jason Anderson, Head Coach of the Allen Eagles Competitive Shooting Team. “He struggled last year quite a bit with his shooting. This past weekend he just won the Texas State HOA champion. I can say he’s back!”