BY JEANNE K. CALLEN
The Greenville Standard
Monday, May 8 the AISA State Sporting Clay Championship was held at the Lower Wetumpka Shotgun Sports Club (LWSSC) in Montgomery.
The event this year was named the Sporting Clays Classic Benefitting Hayden Sampley.
Hayden is a team member as well as a Fort Dale Academy (FDA) student and son of FDA teacher and coach Speed and wife Stephanie Sampley.
Hayden suffered devastating injuries in an ATV accident recently resulting in the loss of his left leg and multiple injuries to his other limbs, as well as a head injury.
Hayden is making an amazing recovery and is now working hard at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for rehabilitation, with his parents by his side.
All proceeds from the event were donated to Hayden and his family for his continued rehabilitation.
Fort Dale’s Sporting Clays team participated in the event and came home champions.
FDA team one: Jack Brogden, Cole Whiddon, Corey Salter and Cade Cartwright came in second place, losing the first place win to Lowndes Academy’s (LA) Andrew Wynn’s team: Ryland Arthur, Luke Lovell, Chase Rudder and Dylan Schofield, by a mere three fourths of a point.
FDA tenth grader Corey Salter placed fourth shooting 89.
LA’s Lovell tied for second place with Dylan Williams of Chambers Academy, both shooting 91, and Gage Strickland of Morgan Academy brought home the win shooting 95.
Those top four shooters were chosen to form an All-Tournament Team and will compete in upcoming regional events.
After many years spent teaching and coaching at LA, Coach Sampley, Stephanie and Hayden are still considered family and that school is dear to their hearts as well.
The 17 and 10 shooting stations at LWSSC are accessed by beautiful meandering trails through the shaded woods and the entire property is beautifully landscaped with native woodland flora.
Every shooting station advertises a sponsor year round with a beautiful sign.
This year #Shoot4Hayden small signs with positive messages for Hayden’s continued recovery were present at each station, and Hayden was missed thought about and prayed for by many people all throughout the day.
LWSSC is host to 30 or more charitable events throughout the year, as well as providing facilities for church events, reunions birthday parties, employee team building, customer appreciation and fundraisers of all kinds.
Individuals are always welcome to come out and practice or take lessons.
Owner Mathew Senn said, “You can come fully prepared with gun, ammo and a golf cart, or with nothing at all and we will set you up, including a golf cart.”
LWSSC is kid friendly and family oriented. Everything at LWSSC is reasonably priced, including at the small store.
Pricing, events, newsletter and contact info can be found on their website: www.lwssc.com.
Popularity of high school firearm sports is on the rise for high schools around the country and is recognized by the AISA.
According to the NRA in an article in “Shooting Sports USA,” by Serena Juchnowski, “Today, the USA Clay Target League has nearly 1,500 school-based competitive shotgun teams across the country and is 100-percent school approved.”
School shooting sports were once common and waned over the last two decades but are now making a huge comeback and are now considered the fastest growing high school sport.
Senn said he felt it was gaining popularity “Because it’s a safe sport and it’s all inclusive. You don’t have to be the typical athlete to compete in this sport and that opens up opportunities for all.
“You can be male or female, large or small short or tall and even handicapped.”
Senn also said the sport teaches proper gun safety and builds individual confidence as well as team spirit and it’s a family oriented sport.
The FDA family is looking forward to Hayden making a comeback at next year’s event.
If you would like to donate to Hayden’s recovery fund: Mail checks to: FDA, 1100 Gamble Street, Greenville AL 36037, specify inside the envelope it’s for “Hayden Sampley Fund.”
Or you can donate directly at Trust mark Bank in Greenville, or donate through Venmo @haydensampley (the last 4 digits of phone number are 1100 for verification purposes.)
Thank you for donations!