While he describes his recent induction into the National Sporting Clays Association Hall of Fame as unbelievable, Mark “Boo” Dykes also describes it as bittersweet.
He wishes his parents had lived to see it.
“My father and my mother were great supporters,” the Columbus man said.
The 48-year-old shooter is a member of the organization’s 2017 Hall of Fame class inducted at a October banquet in San Antonio, Texas.
Dykes was recognized for “superior performance in clay target shooting.”
“It is a great honor,” said Dykes, who fondly remembers competing against others in the HOF.
According to the National Sporting Clays Association, sporting clays is the closest thing to actual field shooting of all shotgun sports. Rather than having clay birds thrown from standardized distances and angles as with skeet or trap, sporting clays courses are designed to simulate the hunting of ducks, pheasants, other upland birds, and even rabbits.
Targets may be thrown from literally any angle or distance to simulate wingshooting, and six different sizes of clay targets are used to further give the shooter the experience of actual hunting conditions.
And Dykes was super at the sport.
There is no doubting the HOF credentials of the Columbus native and Hardaway High School graduate.
In a professional career lasting less than a decade, he was a six-time All American.
Dykes won the NSCA national championship in 1996.
He served as captain of the 1995 All-American Team that won a gold medal in the world championships, the first for this country.
“That was my biggest thrill,” he said,
Especially, since he hit 24 of 25 targets at the end to help clinch the victory.
A former co-owner of a construction company, he is general manager of America’s Swimming Pool Company of Columbus.
He has been married for 20 years to wife Courtenay. They have a son Clay and daughter Palmer.
Dykes said it was at age six when his grandparents began taking him on Sundays to shoot skeet at Callaway Gardens. It is there he fell in love with firing a shotgun.
His passion grew as he began hunting duck, dove and quail with his father and grandfather.
In 1989, his father to took him a range in Albany, Ga. where he was introduced to sporting clays.
“I knew it was something I wanted to do a lot more of,” he said.
By 1991, he was traveling and shooting on the circuit with some success.
In 1992, he made the decision to make sporting clays a fulltime job.
For the next six years he traveled and shot on a national level.
Included in his honors were Southeastern Shotgun Champion, Ducks Unlimited National Champion and Masters of Sporting Clays Champion.
At one time, he thought baseball was going to be big in his future, having played at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, but it was at sporting clays where he had true success.
“I was in an airplane going somewhere about three weeks a month,” he said. “It was a road job. I was either competing or I was teaching,” said Dykes, whose success attracted several sponsors.
He finally decided to settle down.
“I wanted a family and needed to stay home,” Dykes said.
He said he has always been a competitive person but does not miss the shooting clays action.
“I have just always loved the outdoors,” he said. “I do a lot of fishing now.”