With the national championship for the Scholastic Clay Target Program fast approaching, Tom Wondrash is a busy man. “When our national championship ends in July, we’re already working on and planning for next year,” says Tom, who has served as the program’s Director since 2011. The big event runs from July 5-16 at the Cardinal Shooting Center in Marengo, Ohio, and hosts between 2,500 and 3,000 athletes annually.

Shooting teams from around the country gather at the event and include children between fifth grade and college. Almost two million targets will be thrown for the event in disciplines such as American skeet, trap, sporting clays, international skeet, double trap, and bunker trap.

Tom, who oversees the SCTP and secures its sponsors, has watched the program grow from 16 children in 2004 to the nationally recognized shooting mega-program today. Along with the sporting events, the SCTP also offers up to $100,000 in scholarships every year and holds annual summer camps and clinics where Olympic shooters and shotgun experts coach the young shooters. However, Tom’s motivation and passion for the program come from watching the children succeed in competition and life despite these amazing achievements. “I love watching the kids succeed,” he says. “Getting them to see there’s more to the world than sitting in their bedrooms really excites me.”

According to Tom, the sport builds character and confidence, who admires how inclusive the sport is. “Nobody rides the bench in shooting sports…They all get to compete,” he says, citing the wide range of shooters, including the disabled. Regardless of physical capabilities, shooting sports provides children with an opportunity to excel.

The SCTP also instills essential values such as responsibility, safety, commitment, discipline, and sportsmanship. “Rather than be a victim, take control of your future. Be responsible, be respectful, and good things will happen. The more kids get taught these things, the better things will be,” says Tom.

Along with important opportunities for the athletes, the SCTP paves the way for the future of shooting sports as well. Before the program took off, Tom had concerns over the future of the shooting sports and firearms industry. Namely, he hoped to find a way to encourage younger generations to take an interest. With the success of the SCTP, shooting sports has gained new lifelong members. “It’s important to our heritage and important to our industry,” Tom says, noting the increase in interest in the sport over the last decade.

From team building and college scholarships to supporting the future of the shooting sports tradition, the SCTP is one program that meets the mark.

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