Photo 1: Major Jason Wright and US Marine Veteran, Terence Ford
Photo 2: The British Army Shooting Team – Clay Target, outside the Alamo.
Exercise CLAY LONE STAR – British Army Shooting Team – Clay Target Overseas Sports Visit to Texas, USA.
“Why do you need to go to Texas to shoot clay targets”? Not a question without merit; world class facilities, excellent training environments and healthy competition were all reasons to more than justify an overseas sports visit for the Army Team. For the last 10 years or so, Major Jason Wright has been involved in Army Clay Target shooting and for last 18 months, he has been appointed as the Team Captain. The team comprises 50 personnel spread across regular and reserve service with a veteran cohort included, primarily shooting the English Sporting discipline. In addition, the Olympic disciplines of Trap and Skeet shooting have been introduced by Major Wright as the Army Olympic Pathway Programme, a scheme that has seen service personnel receive structured coaching from Team GB coaches with the realistic intent of those members being selected for national and GB teams to compete in the Olympic Games.
Almost three times the size of the UK, there were no concerns of being cramped for space in Texas; the team spent 2 weeks in the State, initially based in Galveston on the Gulf Coast then moving inland to San Antonio. Unusually, epic electrical storms greeted the team and a day of competitive shooting was lost. Things improved, and the remainder of the trip was blessed with sunshine and a healthy dose of Texan hospitality. Dedicated training and competition shooting were the main aims for the visit and the team were spoiled for choice. Hosted by the various professional clubs and organisations, entry into the National Sporting Clay Association competitions saw many of the team score highly against stiff competition. World class shooting was available throughout and like most things across the pond, including the food portion sizes: bigger! The National Shooting Center in San Antonio boasted 57 Skeet layouts and numerous other excellent facilities.
Whilst away from the daily routine of training and competitive shooting, the team were able to visit and meet with members of the US Armed Forces and law enforcement; a unique privilege was to spend a morning sea fishing with a group of former service personnel from the Paralysed Veterans of America, who shared many of their experiences from campaigns both recent and historic. Veteran Terence Ford, a former US Marine who saw operational service in Vietnam, presented Major Wright, with a hand carved, brass headed cane, crafted by veterans that commemorated the conflict in Vietnam. Further opportunities were afforded by the San Antonio Police Department in organising a unique photograph outside the Alamo together with a very informative visit charting the ill-fated defence of the Texian outpost in 1836.
A true trip of a lifetime, the Clay Shooting scene continues to grow in the Army. With great utility to operational shooting: the ability to shoot instinctively at a moving target from a standing alert position, Clay Target shooting is very much more than a ‘stag do’ sport! The AGC have a dedicated programme of training and competitive events, linking in with the Army Target Shooting Club, these are open to all serving personnel and veterans alike. Structured coaching is provided to introduce a novice to the sport through to professional tuition for competent and experienced shots, all at a vastly reduced rate thanks to generous funding from RHQ AGC. Veteran RMP, Simon Arbuckle, the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association Coach of the Year 2019, provides the very best of coaching as part of the team. Major Wright is the AGC Chairman for Clay Target and can be contacted via: Jason.email@example.com for further information on any Clay Target shooting matters. Follow on Facebook at: ‘British Army Shooting Team – Clay Target’ and ‘AGC Clay Target Shooting’ or via Twitter: @ShootingArmy.