A team of target throwing specialists, electricians, heavy equipment operators, and project managers had their work cut out for them. Thousands of pounds of concrete to be poured, hundreds of tons of dirt to be moved, and over 60 traps with supporting equipment to be installed. They have less than a month to get it done, and the success of a National Championship hangs in the balance.
On June 1st, the green light is given to proceed. It is a decision carefully considered over dozens of hours of board meetings, tense phone calls, email chains to infinity, and many restless nights. By this time last year, logistics of the Scholastic Clay Target Program’s (SCTP) National Championship had in large part already been buttoned up and were in motion. 2020 was different for many reasons. The SCTP International Championship had historically been held each fall in Colorado as a separate event, whereas the National Championship is locked in for the second week of July in a 10-year contract for the Cardinal Center.
In January, the SCTP announced the International disciplines of Bunker Trap and International Skeet would be joining the National Championship events at the Cardinal Center in July. With the support of Larry and Brenda Potterfield, SSSF, Promatic, and the Cardinal Shooting Center, a project was drafted to accommodate the International events by constructing four, state of the art International Skeet and Bunker field overlays, complete with Promatic target throwing systems. Placing the International events on the front end of Nationals would give athletes more exposure to the Olympic sports as well as cutting the costs and logistics of another trip for teams and families. But as April came and went, the pandemic in America continued to send ripples through society, putting the project managers for the International Championship in a holding pattern.
Over 16,000 SCTP athletes and coaches were eagerly waiting to hear news about Nationals. The SCTP provided resources for teams to stay sharp during the downtime but nervously watched as other sports organizations throughout the country postponed or canceled seasons. High school senior athletes were dreading that there would be no National title pursuits to close out their final seasons.
In May, the SCTP continued to hold on an official Nationals announcement, continually monitoring information from the state of Ohio, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morrow County (OH) Department of Health, and representatives from the Cardinal Center in their consideration. Additional input came in throughout the month from health professionals and feedback from SCTP coaches, helping shape the decision to go forward with the National Championship event as planned on June 1st.
This set the stage for an incredibly fast-paced timeline to execute the traditional National Championship preparations, much less integrating an entire International Style Championship into the schedule.
“Clear, consistent communication was key on this project,” said SCTP National Director, Tom Wondrash. “With the time ticking and athletes, coaches, families, sponsors, looking to see if Nationals was a go, the weight of moving the International events to the front end of Nationals grew heavier as time went on. Throughout all of this, those involved in the project remained optimistic and eager to get to work. On June 1st, everyone hit the ground running, ready to execute their piece of the project.”
The Promatic team took point early on in the year, getting plans set with the Cardinal Center staff and contractors. Promatic representatives said, “Every event is important but the SCTP project at the Cardinal Center was special, knowing that all the American and International disciplines were under one roof for the first time ever in SCTP history. As soon as the Cardinal Center got enough earth moved to get the initial structure built, we were on our way with a trailer full of throwers and equipment.”
With the plans dialed in, the Promatic team got to work installing Promatic Olympic Trap units into the bunkers, with the SCTP National Championship fast approaching.
Another Promatic technician reflected on the project saying, “Once we were on the ground we were all just plugging away, working with and around each other to get all of our parts of the bunkers done. With a project as important as this, you expect for Murphy’s law to come into play. We were all thinking the weather would come in to wreak havoc, but not so much as a drop of water hit the ground. With so many aspects of the project happening at one time, rain would have been disastrous. We were on the ground on the 25th of June and wrapped things up by July 3rd. It could not have gone any smoother!”
Much like the installation project, the 2020 SCTP National Championship went off without a hitch, with athlete entries in Bunker Trap doubling from the previous year. The International Skeet and Bunker Trap finals closed out each event, with the top 3 male and female athletes in each discipline determining slots for the SCTP International Team, coached by former Olympian, Terri DeWitt. Familiar faces returned, along with some new athletes earning their slot on the prestigious youth shooting team. The group will be attending training camps in the fall in order to prepare for 2021’s Olympic Trials. As the official youth feeder program of USA Shooting, participating in SCTP’s International Disciplines is the path for kids to reach their Olympic dreams.
The 2021 National Championships are slated for July 8-19th, with the International events taking place on the 8th-11th. An additional Bunker Trap field, complete with Promatic equipment will be completed next spring, bringing the total number at the Cardinal Shooting Center to five. This greatly expands the capabilities of hosting International Style Competitions, a rarity in the United States.