Students set sights on sky

“Pull!” Then the sound of shotguns firing and a sudden crash of shattering clay.

This might be a frightening experience to some, but to competitive skeet shooters, it is just a typical practice.

Four Bryan High students are involved with skeet shooting, and it’s more than just a sport; it’s a lifestyle.

Senior Brandy Drozd started shooting in the third grade, and was influenced by her family.

“My brother did 4-H and my family likes to hunt, so skeet shooting was kind of perfect for us,” Drozd said. “The mental aspect makes it so difficult.”

Senior Nash Porter also started shooting in third grade, but shooting struck his interest in other ways.

“The skeet shooting range is by our house, so we kind of grew up around it,” Porter said. “It gets pretty competitive and takes a lot of time, mainly before competition. You can spend up to 10 or 15 hours a week.”

The DeWitt brothers Coulter a sophomore, and Granger a senior, must balance shooting and with other sports like football. One day this season, Granger had to be in two places at once, a shooting match and a game, making transportation a problem.

“I knew it wasn’t possible to do both at the same time, but I got to fly to the game,” Granger said. “Shooting is usually distant, and football isn’t.”

The students compete with USA Shooting, a non-profit corporation that manages shooting programs and sanctions events at local, state, regional and even national levels. These events, or competitions, undoubtedly call for countless hours of practice, but they also teach life skills.

“For shooting, you’re by yourself and you’re the only one on your team,” Granger DeWitt said. “You have to take all the responsibility for everything.”

The competitions also offer many travel opportunities and experiences that the shooters might not have access to otherwise. Brandy Drozd has traveled abroad for shooting competitions in countries like Italy, Germany and Serbia.

“Some of the events span over 4 days, so with travel time, that really affects Brandy’s work,” parent Amy Drozd said. “USA Shooting demands a very positive appearance as these shooters are representing the U.S. when they travel abroad.”

While it takes a lot of work to keep up with school and do well in shooting, Brandy still appreciates the chance to travel the world.

“I’ve been overseas three times,” Brandy said. “I really enjoyed getting to see the world, and I never expected I would be able to that through shooting.”

Some of the students’ most memorable experiences came from shooting.

“My most memorable experience was probably the Olympic trials in 2008 and seeing who got to go to the Olympics,” Porter said. “I thought it was cool that someone so young could get into the Olympic trials and actually be involved in it.”

Besides shooting in college, many of the students also aspire to compete in the Olympics.

“The Olympics are the main goal, and I also want to compete in the World Cup,” Brandy said. “I’m going to Texas A&M , and they have a shooting club, and I’ll be participating in that.”