Local Athletes Strike Gold in Colorado
Saint Petersburg, FL - The United States Clay Target Academy (USCTA), an Olympic shotgun development program based out of Skyway Trap and Skeet Club, 3200 74th Avenue N, St. Petersburg, FL athletes have just returned from competing in three National Championships – the USA Shooting (USAS) National Junior Olympic Championships, the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Olympic Style National Championships and the USA Shooting National Team Trials. The competitions were held at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) Shotgun Range at Ft. Carson, Colorado Springs, CO from July 5th through August 6th.
The USCTA Shooting Team athletes started training in September 2013 for the 2014 competition season, shooting three times per week and even foregoing a spring break trip to train. Shortly after final exams, three thirteen year olds and one eleven year old turned their focus on the National Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While many families were planning and going on summer vacations, these athletes were planning a trip to Colorado Springs and training hard in preparation to compete in the three events. Their summer vacation was spent competing against the best in the Nation – adult and youth combined.
One hundred fifty-two athletes attended the National Junior Olympic Championship; eighty-six athletes competed in the SCTP International National Championships and one hundred seventy-one top Olympic Trap shooters from across the country, Canada, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic descended upon the USA Shooting Olympic shotgun complex to compete in the USAS National Championships. Each athlete competing to see how they stand in comparison to the best the United States has to offer and with a goal of learning as much as possible for future competitions.
USCTA athletes were there to do the same. Peter Meola, Gabriel Shandles and Logan Smith, ages 13, and Joshua Vega, age 11, represented their team and our community well in the three competitions, bringing home seven gold medals total. Each athlete shot their personal best during these competitions and also learned some very valuable competition skills.
Peter Meola, St. Petersburg, FL, a team leader, followed up his 2013 SCTP National Championships Open Team Gold medal with a 2014 SCTP National Championships Open Team Gold medal. Peter also finished in fourth place in the USA Shooting National Championship J3 category.
Gabriel Shandles, Odessa, FL, garnered his 3rd SCTP National Championship Gold medal in his age group. Gabe followed up a 2012 SCTP National Championship Team Silver and 2013 SCTP National Championship Team Gold with a 2014 SCTP National Championship Team Gold, open division. After a close race, eight targets separating first through third place, Gabriel added to his collection his first USA Shooting J3 National Championship Gold medal, improving over his 2013 J3 second place finish.
Logan Smith, Palmetto, FL, who picked up her first shotgun only fifteen months ago, followed up a Bronze medal, women’s division and J3 Silver medal at the 2014 Florida Junior Olympic Championships with a 2014 SCTP National Championship Gold medal in the ladies Intermediate division.
Joshua Vega, St. Petersburg, FL, the youngest athlete on the travel team, won his second consecutive SCTP National Championship Gold medal in the Rookie division. Stating “it all just came together” Joshua finished in 2nd Place in the USA Shooting National Championship J3 category.
USCTA Coaches Bonnie Chamberlain and Marvin Spinks said: “This was a fantastic experience for these young athletes. They are learning at a very young age that discipline, hard work and dedication to the training process is rewarding. We believe all of our athletes can legitimately see, with continued hard work and training, the possibility of a USA team vest in the future.”
Parents and athletes have great things to say...
“It was incredibly fun and exciting to watch Joshua perform so well at this year’s national competitions, especially given his young age (11) and the fact that he hit so many Olympic targets with a 20 gauge shotgun! Through his participation on the USCTA Shooting Team (and all that entails…top-notch Olympic level coaches, residing and training at the Olympic Training Center, high level competitions, fun team outings, etc.) he has learned the importance and value of teamwork, respect, focus, time-management, dedication and hard work. We appreciate this opportunity and are extremely proud of Joshua and his teammates. Congratulations!”
-Juan & Amy Vega
“My daughter, Logan, started in the USCTA program with a desire to learn to shoot clays. Her involvement has progressed from a casual participant in the Saturday program to a member of the Shooting Team. She has been exposed to Olympic style shooting and has set a goal of making the Olympic shooting team. Logan is now on a self-driven mission to represent our Nation at the highest levels. My timid little girl has grown into a dedicated, hardworking competitor with clearly defined goals. She is motivated to do the necessary training, putting in the long hours and sacrificing social activities to achieve these goals. This motivation and effort has transcended all areas of her life and will continue to benefit her in all of her future endeavors. My family and I are fortunate to have found Bonnie, Marvin, and the USTCA. Btw, my little girl has become one heck of a trap shooter!”
“Our son, Peter, had a wonderful experience with the USCTA Shooting Team located at Skyway Gun Club competing in Colorado Springs this summer. He was well prepared for the competition and earned personal best scores. We would not know how to further his love of the sport without Coach Chamberlain's and Coach Spink's guidance and experience. Our son plans to continue training with them to achieve his dreams of College and possibly Olympic competition.”
-Frank and Mary Ann Meola
“Gabe’s maturity and sense of responsibility as well as confidence has grown enormously. His determination to excel in all he does has been aroused.”
"It was a great experience. I met a lot of people while staying at the Olympic Training Center, exceeded my goals, and improved with each competition. I thank my coaches for this opportunity."
“This summer has been one I will never forget. I’ve had the most amazing time. The gratification I felt by all our hard work paying off was indescribable. I’m very excited and motivated for next year and what it will bring.”
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt by the heart.” Helen Keller “When we stayed at the Olympic Training Center I was inspired by all the athletes who were able to accomplish their goals”.
“Through shooting, I have realized that I must work hard to become proficient at anything.”
At the completion of the competitions the athletes were able to see the results of their hard work and dedication:
J3 Category – Olympic Trap
Gold Medal - Gabe Shandles
2nd Place – Josh Vega
4th Place – Peter Meola
Scholastic Clay Target Program
Rookie Division – Olympic Trap, men’s
Gold Medal – Joshua Vega
Intermediate Division – Olympic Trap, women’s
Gold Medal – Logan Smith
Intermediate Division – Olympic Trap, men’s
Gold Medal – Gabriel Shandles
Open Division - Olympic Trap
Team Gold – Peter Meola, Gabe Shandles and Josh Vega
Wednesday - Friday
5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
*Last round must begin one hour before close.
3200 74th Avenue N
Saint Petersburg, FL 33702
Bob & Eddie Warren