After an uncharacteristic two-year hiatus, the Harris County shotgun team is nationals bound once again.
The 17-time national champions will head to Marengo, Ohio, Monday to participate in the Scholastic Clay Target Program National Championships. The team’s events will begin Wednesday and run through Saturday.
Twenty-one of its 50 members qualified for the championships, ensuring the team will be well represented on the big stage.
Head coach Angie Everson explained the sport is a lot like golf in that there are individual winners and team winners. Everson credited so many members earning nationals berths to their dedication to the sport. She said the team practices twice per week, with many members taking it upon themselves to do more than that.
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“When the kids come out here to practice, they shoot about 100 rounds at each practice,” Everson said. “The amount of shells that go through their guns in the course of a season is pretty impressive.”
The rigorous work put in was evident when the team, which is made up of shooters from fifth grade to 12th, participated in the state SCTP shoot in Savannah.
At the shoot’s close, Harris County claimed the state championship. Harlan Brooks, Ashton Curry, Clay Weaver, Colton Scheible, and Michael Seavers took first in intermediate entry for trap while Colton Patterson, Luke Weaver and Garrett Wood earned first in intermediate advanced for skeet. Brooks took first individual in intermediate entry for trap, while Avery Lawski took first individual in varsity for skeet.
The victory officially punched the team’s ticket to nationals.
“It’s very humbling to be able to do this,” said Blake Everson, Angie’s son and a third-year member of the team. “Not many people in this area can say they’ve been able to get to a national championship in any sport.”
Blake Keefe, who is now in his fifth year with the team, said the team has spent countless hours working toward this big moment.
“You get out what you put in, and it all pays off in the end,” Keefe said. “You’ve got to put in the work to get the reward.”
While the shooters devote plenty of time to their craft, they also have plenty of guidance to help out.
Everson is one of 18 coaches for Harris County, which is a necessity given how important safety is in shotgun shooting. Everson explained some of the coaches are former Harris County shooters, while others are fathers who stuck around the team once their children graduated. Those coaches offer the same two objectives to all shooters: Have fun and break targets.
That level of commitment is one met by many other locals, which Everson said means a lot to her.
“I am very thankful because this program took quite some time to develop,” Everson said. “There are people all over Harris County who gave their time, effort, skills and talent to help this come to life. I’m excited to continue that.”
As far as the goal at nationals, Keefe wasn’t shy in offering up what the team wants out of the trip north.
“First place, baby,” Keefe said. “That’s what we want.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports