In The News
Local youth shotgun team excels in national competition
AUGUST 17, 2022
The Unaka Shooters had a fantastic season. The youth shotgun team cleaned up at the state tournament, as evidenced by all the medals and trophies, and advanced to the national event where they brought home more awards.
By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor
Far away from the bright lights and roaring crowds that greet youth athletes in some sports you’ll find others who excel in relative obscurity.
The Unaka Rod & Gun Club is home to a team most folks in Johnson City don’t even know exists. However, the Unaka Shooters, a youth shotgun team, made their presence known this summer by winning at the state level and qualifying for the national event in Columbus, Ohio.
Shane McCown, head coach of the Unaka Shooters, was thrilled with the way his team performed both at the state level and on the national stage. Unaka’s intermediate team – comprised of Jacob Sexton, Reed McCown, Lawson Frizzell, Jared Watson, Cole Casey, Grayson Cole, Scott Dunn Jr. and Gage Hutson – won the high overall main event team award at the state tournament.
“I’m very proud of the individual performances and sportsmanship that were displayed at the tournament,” McCown said. “Not only are we very proud of these athletes and their performance on the field, but the fact that they were able to do so well as a team is one of the greatest achievements we could ask of them. The coaches for the team really want to emphasize teamwork.
“We win as a team, and that is just what we did at the state competition.”
Sexton was the intermediate grand champion in American skeet at the state level and finished runner-up in intermediate advanced sporting clays. He went on to place third in the nation among intermediate shooters across the three main disciplines. He also finished third nationally in intermediate sporting clays.
Reed McCown, Sexton and Dunn Jr. finished fifth in the nation as a team in the intermediate American Skeet Singles while Gabe Overbey, Jackson Barr and Dunn Jr. finished fifth in the nation in the open squad American Skeet Singles. Individually, Reed McCown was second in the nation in the intermediate male American skeet doubles event.
The national event featured some very stiff competition with over 3,500 athletes from 30 states represented at the event in Ohio. It requires a lot of concentration to shoot 100 rounds in each major discipline at the state level, but the pressure is ratcheted up at nationals as shooters fire off 200 rounds in each major discipline while facing the best of the best from each state.
While middle school and high school athletes compete in these events, the rookie division features participants as young as 9 years old. Lauren McCown is in the rookie division, following in her brother Reed’s footsteps. This year was Lauren’s first in competition, and she finished third in rookie American skeet at the state level and fourth in the nation in the same event.
“It felt really good, especially since it was my first year,” Lauren said. “I could definitely tell that I got way better. At the beginning of the year, I had a gun that didn’t fit me right, so I wasn’t doing as well. But when I found a gun that fit me right, I got better at it.”
For all those kids out there looking for a fun and challenging sport, Lauren said the Unaka Shooters might be just what they are looking for.
“They should definitely try it,” she said. “It might be scary at first, but once you try it it’s really fun.”
Shane McCown is excited about the season and believes his team is positioned well to build on the momentum generated by the trip to the national event. He added that the support provided by the community and Unaka Rod & Gun Club is a firm foundation for the program moving forward.
“We are especially thankful to our sponsor organization, the Unaka Rod & Gun Club in Johnson City. The club has been so supportive of the athletes during practice and the events,” McCown stated. “I would also like to thank all the parents and coaches who make sure athletes have what they need to compete and thrive in this sport.”
Local youth shotgun team brings home top recognition at state competition
The Unaka Shooters, a youth shotgun team from the Unaka Rod & Gun club in Johnson City, TN, just recently came back from the state tournament in Nashville, TN. The state tournament is a gateway to entry into the National SCTP tournament that is held at the Cardinal Center near Columbus Ohio. The TNSCTP is run by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation TWF, an organization focused on conservation and youth engagement for the state of Tennessee.
The Tennessee State Tournament is held each year in Nashville. The Unaka Shooters competed in multiple disciplines requiring the athletes to fire 100+ rounds in each discipline. The disciplines included American Skeet, American Trap, Sporting Clays, American Skeet Doubles, Super Sporting Clays. The tournament hosted 79 teams from across the state of Tennessee with 1,152 athletes competing for top positions in multiple disciplines. During the event over 273,250 clay targets were thrown for the athletes.
“I’m very proud of the individual performances and sportsmanship that were displayed at the tournament,” said Shane McCown, Head Coach of the Unaka Shooters. "Not only are we very proud of these athletes and their performance on the field but the fact that they were able to do so well as a team is one of the greatest achievements we could ask of them. The coaches for the team really want to emphasize teamwork. We win as a team, and that is just what we did at the state competition.”
The Unaka Shooters brought home several awards including the State High Overall Main Event Team Award which takes the top 5 scores from the team in the Intermediate Division and compares them to all the other teams in the State for the 3 main events of Skeet, Trap and Sporting Clays. This award was given to the Intermediate Team composed of shooters in grades 6-8 including Jacob Sexton, Reed McCown, Lawson Frizzell, Jared Watson, Cole Casey, Grayson Cole, Scott Dunn Jr., and Gage Hutson.
“We are especially thankful to our sponsor organization, the Unaka Rod & Gun Club in Johnson City. The club has been so supportive of the athletes during practice and the events,” McCown stated. “I would also like to thank all the parents and coaches who make sure athletes have what they need to compete and thrive in this sport. We also would like to thank the Friends of the NRA and the MidwayUSA foundation for grants that help to support our team.”
Rookies (minimum of 9yrs old) 3rd-5th Grade
Intermediate 6-8th Grade
Varsity 9-12th Grade
Team & Squad State Awards:
High Overall Main Events Intermediate Team (1st Place)
2nd Place American Skeet Singles (Intermediate Advanced)
2nd Place American Skeet Doubles (Intermediate Advanced)
Individual State Awards:
Jacob Sexton - Intermediate Grand Champion in American Skeet (Highest score of all Intermediate Athletes)
Scott Dunn Jr. - Intermediate Entry 1st place in American Skeet
Seth Fox - Collegiate 1st place in American Skeet
Seth Fox - Collegiate High Overall Runner Up for Skeet
Lauren McCown - Rookie 3rd place in American Skeet
Jacob Sexton - Intermediate Advanced 2nd place in Sporting Clays
Seth Fox - Collegiate 3rd place in Super Sporting Clays
To be able to compete in the State Tournament the Unaka Shooters had to also compete in the Regional competition. The Unaka Shooters are in Region IV for the state. We have approximately 9 teams in our region and we came away with many of the top spots for our region.
Regional Team & Squad Awards:
High Overall Intermediate Team
High Overall Varsity Team Runner Up
1st Place Rookie Team Skeet
2nd Place Intermediate Entry Skeet
1st Place Intermediate Advanced Skeet
1st & 3rd Place Intermediate Advanced Skeet Squad
1st Place Junior Varsity Skeet
1st Place Intermediate Advanced Trap
1st Place Rookie Sporting Clays
2nd Place Intermediate Entry Sporting Clays
1st Place Intermediate Advanced Sporting Clays
3rd Place Junior Varsity Sporting Clays
Regional Individual Awards:
Lauren McCown - High Overall Rookie
Hamilton Cole - High Overall Rookie Runner Up
Reed McCown - High Overall Intermediate Runner Up
Hamilton Cole - 1st Male Rookie Skeet
Lauren McCown - 1st Female Rookie Skeet
Scott Dunn Jr. - 1st Male Intermediate Entry Skeet
Jacob Sexton - 2nd Male Intermediate Advanced Skeet
Reed McCown - 3rd Male Intermediate Advanced Skeet
Seth Black - 2nd Male Junior Varsity Skeet
Kingston Cole - 3rd Male Junior Varsity Skeet
Jackson Barr - 3rd Male Varsity Skeet
Seth Fox - 1st Male Collegiate Skeet
Lauren McCown - 3rd Female Rookie Trap
Scott Dunn Jr. - 1st Male Intermediate Entry Trap
Reed McCown - 1st Male Intermediate Advanced Trap
Jackson Barr - 3rd Male Varsity Trap
Seth Fox - 1st Male Collegiate Trap
Hamilton Cole - 2nd Male Rookie Sporting Clays
Lauren McCown - 1st Female Rookie Sporting Clays
Scott Dunn Jr. - 1st Male Sporting Clays
Reed McCown - 3rd Male Sporting Clays
Seth Black - 1st Male Junior Varsity Sporting Clays
Seth Fox - 1st Male Collegiate
Local shooting team finishes second at state championships
Three local athletes from Unaka Shooters finished second recently in the Skeet Intermediate Advanced competition at the recent Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program State Champion- ships in Nashville.
Jacob Sexton, Reed McCown and Seth Black took the second-place trophy and medals in skeet and added a third-place finish in sporting clays. They finished behind the Cumberland County Youth Shooting Sports Team and ahead of Henry County No Fly Zone in the final standings, determined in a doubles shoot-off due to a tied score.
The local team is comprised of youth from Washington, Carter and Sullivan counties and supported by the Unaka Rod & Gun Club.
They were part of more than 2,000 youth athletes from middle school to college who participated in the championships from June 21-27.
The state championships spanned six full days of co-ed competition in multiple shotgun shooting sports disciplines — trap, skeet, and sporting clays, as well as doubles skeet, doubles trap, and extended yard line trap. Individuals and teams from all corners of the state competed for titles in more than 160 categories.
The Scholastic Clay Target Program, a national organization, is organized under the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest nonprofits in the state. The Unaka Shooters are listed in Region IV by the TWF and they won several placements into the state championships.
Seth Fox won the Skeet Individual Collegiate competition and finished second in Trap Individual Collegiate. Sexton was first in Trap Individual Intermediate Advanced and second in Skeet Individual Intermediate Advanced, just ahead of teammate McCown.
Sexton, McCown and Black teamed in the Intermediate Advanced competition, placing first in the region in skeet. They also teamed with Eli Henry and Kingston Cole, placing second in trap and third in sporting clays.
Other individual winners included Jackson Barr in Skeet Junior Varsity and Breanna Grizzel in Skeet Female Junior Varsity. Fifth-grader Scott Dunn had three first-place efforts, including Skeet Individual Rookie and Trap Rookie Invitational.
Gage Hutson posted a second-place finish in Trap Individual Intermediate Entry. Cole Casey, Jared Watson, Grayson Cole and Noah Kadish teamed with Hutson at the regional championships, placing second in skeet and trap as a team.
The purpose of the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program is to recruit youth into an outdoor lifestyle by introducing them to the shooting sports. Studies have shown those who participate in outdoor recreation are eight times more likely to support conservation issues.
Unaka Shooters earning regional and national recognition