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On target: Decatur clay target team wraps up second season

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, May 11, 2019
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Ready Aim Fire

READY, AIM, FIRE – The Decatur clay target team practices at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds on Sundays during the season. The team has grown to 25 members and just finished its second year. Submitted photo

When Jason Ticknor went into an informational meeting in 2017 for the Decatur clay target team, he was trying to learn more about an activity he thought his daughter, Jaci, might be interested in.

A few hours later, he walked out the head coach.

“All the kids said ‘yeah, we want to do this.’ I raised my hand and said I would be the head coach,” Ticknor said. “It was a whirlwind getting the team assembled, designing the logo and ordering T-shirts, hats, etc. I had a lot of great parents step up and help me get the team built. And we’re still building it. It’s kind of leveled out now.”

The team started with 15 members and has grown to 25. Students from Decatur, Bridgeport, Boyd, Paradise, Alvord and Victory Christian make up the roster.

Any student from the seventh grade up is eligible to join. The cost is around $350 per season and includes a shooting vest, jersey, hat and insurance at practice and competitions.

“It’s pretty much becoming a Wise County clay target team,” Ticknor said. “We want to keep it affordable to keep kids included.

“The cost to join some Metroplex teams can be between $2,000 and $3,000. Due to our sponsors, we’re able to keep that low.”

Before joining the team, students and parents must attend an eight-hour gun safety meeting.

“Obviously gun safety is the ultimate rule we go by,” Ticknor said. “They’ll learn about shotguns, shotgun shells and shooter safety. Same goes for transporting the guns and shells to practice. The guns have to be unloaded and shells in separate compartments.”

Ticknor said clay target shooting is one of the safest high school sports.

“It’s being touted as one of the safest high school sports out there,” Ticknor said. “It doesn’t have near the injuries that softball, baseball, basketball have.”

Ticknor and the other coaches on the team are certified by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in shotgun safety. Ticknor said he relies on parents to help him with practices and competitions.

The majority of the team owns their own shotguns and shoot 12-gauges. The team just wrapped up its second season and competes at various competitions around the state. Clay target shooting is governed by the Texas Scholastic Clay Target Program.

“What’s great about this program is you don’t have to be the best to make the team,” Ticknor said. “If you’re disciplined, want to work and learn, you can join the team and shoot competitions.”

The team practices on Sundays at Fossil Pointe Sporting Grounds just north of Decatur.

“David and Mary, the owners, have been outstanding to work with,” Ticknor said. “They love having the team out there. There’s a big sign that says ‘Home of the Decatur Clay Target Team.’ They give us special pricing. It’s close and they have been very supportive of the team.”

As for Jason and his daughter, he said spending more time with Jaci has been incredibly rewarding. Jason also has seen firsthand how much she has improved, and concedes Jaci is probably a better shot than he is now.

“It’s been a special bond for she and I to go out and hunt, shoot,” Jason said. “To see how far she’s come shooting-wise. I’m afraid to take her hunting because she’s going to do a whole lot better than I’m going to.”

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