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Clay shooting tournament ‘a blast’

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Sharp shooters set out to ‘blast’ away their competition at their final tournament of an eight-week season. Big Sky Sporting Clays in Polson hosted the Pheasants Forever Youth Group on Sunday, March 20 in search for the marksman with the best aim.

Polson Head Coach Ken Bauer explained the tournament dynamics.

“In this tournament they are shooting sporting clay, which is the combination of all the different types of shooting,” Ken Bauer said. The winner is determined by the amount of clays hit in their 15 rounds, and then added to their running score throughout the last seven weeks.

Shooters rotate through different stations, where clay discs are slung in various directions that shooters attempt to hit. Sometimes two clays discs are released simultaneously. Shooters must shoot both discs of this “true pair” before they hit the ground. When a single clay is released, another clay won’t be slung until the gun fires. If the shooter misses, then the next clay is slung, causing two clays to be in the air at once. This is known as a “report pair.”

In other stations, the clays roll around on the ground, simulating rabbits, or drop from trees.

The Polson team, which is in its second year, consists of Kenton Sisler, Willy Lytton, Andrey Bauer, Kyla Blixt, and Mesa McKee. 

Blixt is a ninth-grader and has been shooting shotgun for the last five years and is “happy to be surrounded by other people who enjoy the sport.”

“I started shooting with my dad just for fun, but then I heard of this program and it has been a blast,” she said. “It is something that takes a lot of practice, but obviously worth it.”

Her teammate, McKee, has been shooting for two years and describes the difficulties.

“It is challenging,” McKee said. “There is so many different factors in play that you have to think about while shooting.”

Bauer also explained some of the difficulties shooters face.

“You have to take in consideration the wind and weather,” Bauer said. “It is also important to remember to aim ahead of your target and determine the speed it is moving.”

As an eighth-grader, McKee is one of the younger shooters on her team and has noticed her advancements.

“It has been fun getting to watch myself (get) better throughout the season,” McKee said. “I feel like I have made small improvements, which is fine since this is a sport that the only way to really get better is to just practice.”

There were 73 shooters who competed on Sunday, March 20 in Polson and the top-scorers received prizes donated by Pheasants Forever. Tournament Director, Sheryl Van Voast appreciates the skills competitors gain.

“This sport teaches these kids about gun safety, sportsmanship, camaraderie, and respect for each other,” Van Voast said. “That, to me, is more important than who wins and loses.”

Bauer was excited with his team’s performances early in the competition.

“This team has worked hard,” Bauer said. “They have put in a lot of practice in this skill.”

Van Voast added the importance of “feeling a part of a group.”

“This is a really good thing. It gets kids involved in something,” Van Voast said. “It is a great way to give kids confidence.”

The Big Sky Sporting Clays summer hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. They will also be hosting tournaments on May 15, June 18, and July 10.

Results will be published online at

Sunday, March 20 Clay Shooting Results:

High overall boy trap shooter – Andrey Bauer 

High overall girl trap shooter – Ceciley Taylor

High overall boy skeet shooter – Garrett Webb

High overall girl skeet shooter – Ceciley Taylor

High overall boy 5-stand shooter – Sawyer Hanson

High overall girl 5-stand shooter – Allison Briner

High overall boy sporting clays shooter – Andrey Bauer

High overall girl sporting clays shooter – Ceciley Taylor

Most Improved boy shooter – Caden Harkins

Most Improved girl shooter – Mesa McKee

Top Gun Boy – Andrey Bauer

Top Gun Girl – Ceciley Taylor


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