June 8, 2022
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
JACKSONVILLE — The Fouke “Claybusters” Senior Trapshooting Team took top honors at Saturday’s finale of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship, held at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex. The Claybusters climbed to the top of a heap of 64 of the best trap-shooting teams in the state to claim their place in legendary fashion, narrowly defeating a powerfully competitive Harrisburg Hornets “Castaways” team in the final round of competition.
After a day of high-pressure shooting, each of the finalists had advanced through five consecutive victories in head-to-head matches in bracket-style competition. Both teams continued their excellent shooting during the final round, each hit making a statement in a puff of orange smoke, an added touch of flair used to highlight the action during the AGFC’s live-streaming coverage on its Facebook page.
In the end, it all came down to a tie-breaker to determine the top squad in today’s competition. Both Fouke and Harrisburg had a final round score of 120 broken targets out of a possible 125, but the team from Fouke had two shooters, Clayton Brantley and Mason Garrett, who shot perfect scores of 25, while William Mahan was the only member of the Harrisburg Hornets who ran the table during the final round.
This is the first state championship for the Fouke Claybusters, who entered the competition as one of the top seeds after posting their first tournament victory last month in regional competition.
“It’s taken seven years, but all of these young men pulled it together to make it happen today,” Fouke Coach Charles Miller said. “Four of the five teammates are seniors, so it’s a great way to finish what they started way back in sixth grade.”
The Westside Warriors “Red” Trap Team took third place after falling just short in the semifinals but rebounding with a strong score of 119 in a shootoff with the Jonesboro Uncoachables, who posted a 101 in their final round of competition.
The top three teams each received scholarship money for their seniors headed to college: Fouke received $7,500, Harrisburg took home $5,000 and Westside received $2,500 in funds that come from the AGFC’s Conservation License Plate sales.
Westside’s captain, Cole Cureton, reclaimed some first-place pride for his team, as he bested 14 other competitors in the final event of the season, the Senior Division Champion of Champions shootoff. The sudden-death format shootoff was filled with all participants who had shot perfect scores of 50 out of 50 hit targets during regional competition. Each player shot, and those successful were allowed to advance to the next shooting station until only one participant remained. After 14 rounds of competition, with distances from the target increasing during the final 7, Culverton was the last competitor standing. He received a $2,500 scholarship, thanks to a generous endowment by Dr. Doyne and Nancy Williams of Little Rock.
In a close match on Friday, the Junior Division state title was won by the Highland Junior Trapshooters Junior Squad 1. This was the first time in 15 tries that the team finished on top.
Highland edged out the Batesville Pioneer Holler Boys trap team 113 to 110. In third place was the Corning Junior Squad 1 who beat the Magnolia Junior Panthers Squad 1.
Brady Russom of Corning was the Champion of Champions as he hit a perfect score of 25 clays.
AYSSP is an AGFC program that increases conservation education, firearms safety and participation in shooting sports, which help fund vital conservation efforts through the sales of firearms and ammunition throughout the United States. AYSSP events include regional and state tournaments held annually in May and early June. The AYSSP championship began in 2007. Funding for the program is made possible with the help of grant funds through the Wildlife Restoration Program.
Complete team and individual scores are available at https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp.