Earlier this month, the Etowah Valley Mambas, a youth sporting clays team out of Etowah Valley Sporting Clays placed fourth in the national tournament hosted in Marengo, Ohio.
In addition to the team’s overall performance, Rennie Wilson took home the overall individual national champion as the best male shooter at the event this year.
The team is a part of the Scholastic Clay Target Program that features over 57 teams across the country.
“Any team can attend Nationals, but you have to be good at all three disciplines to be competitive,” coach David Mobbs said in an interview after the tournament.
This is the seventh time that the Mambas have gone to the six-day event and the best they have ever finished. This year, the team brought 21 seventh to twelfth grade students split into three divisions: middle school, junior varsity and senior varsity. Each group gets divided into teams of three to compete against other teams.
The team is coached by Mobbs, Ketih McRae, Vernon Kirby and head coach Gordon Morrison.
There are three different events that teams will compete in: sporting clays, skeet and trap.
Sporting Clays is meant to resemble actual hunting as precisely as possible. Shooters travel through a course where various targets will appear from multiple distances away and are scored on how many targets the shooter hits. A full round usually consists of 100 shots.
The Mambas performed exceptionally well in sporting clays this year. National champion Rennie Wilson brought home the men’s varsity national champion in this event while Ella Martin won the ladies junior varsity championship. As a trio, Austin Cagle, Rennie Wilson and Owen Thomas finished as the second best team.
Second, skeet is where shooters shoot from a fixed number of locations around a regulation field. The targets then quickly pass in front of the shooter.
The team of Austin Cagle, Rennie Wilson and Christopher Mobbs finished just outside the podium as the fourth best team.
The last event, trap, is when a target moves away from a shooter at different angles and a quick pace. Mobbs said that speed and accuracy are important here.
Rennie Wilson walked away from the week as the national champion in both trap events.
Mobbs said that the team will usually begin practicing in February and will continue to practice twice a week until the National Championships next July.
“Most shooters will practice once or twice a week on their own in addition to team practices,” Mobbs said. “To give some perspective, most shooters will shoot 12,000 shotgun shells a year in tournaments.”
He added that shooters will compete in other individual events throughout the year as well.
The Mambas had five members win awards in recognition of not just their shooting ability, but their performance in the classroom as well as community service. This was awarded to Will Morrison, Christopher Mobbs, Benjamin Karcher, Austin Cagle and Rennie Wilson.
“Extremely proud, not only was the team competitive, we had many shooters that have just started in the sport win awards,” Mobbs said. “Additionally, we promote teamwork, safety and discipline and that was clearly on display.”