Photo courtesy of FishHawk Talon. The 2019 FishHawk Talons Shooting Team practices at FishHawk Sporting Clays.

The FishHawk Talons are a newly expanding youth shooting team out of the FishHawk Sporting Clays facility that has certified instructors teaching students ranging from fifth graders to college-age how to shoot sporting clay targets both recreationally and competitively.

The team recently competed for the first time in the National USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports (USAYESS) National Junior Clay Target Championships at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, TX. Held at the end of June, the tournament consisted of three days of shooting trap, skeet, 5-stand and sporting clays.

Overall, 13 kids from the Talons competed in nationals. The intermediate middle school squad shooters included Andrew Ball, AJ Hagan, Mackenzie Nolte, Trevor Hinton and Holden Pollock. They placed second in all four of their shooting events as a team. Mackenzie Nolte placed third in an individual qualifying event.

The season will start up again the weekend after Labor Day. They practice every other Sunday at 2 p.m. at the FishHawk Sporting Clays facility, located at 13505 Hobson Simmons Rd. in Lithia.

Groups are broken up into squads of five students. Each squad has an instructor, and they shoot around 50-100 clays to get into a routine of gun safety and breaking targets, as well as getting familiar with how to shoot a shotgun. The Talons are currently seeking new students. Potential students who might be interested can come to any practice to see if they would like it. They can choose to participate recreationally and, eventually, competitively.

“It helps to grow them as a person, gives them some responsibility and at the same time they can have fun and challenge themselves, as well as teach them something new,” said FishHawk Talons Steering Committee Chairman Chad Nolte. “It’s something completely different and not everybody’s cup of tea, but I encourage kids to try it once and see if they like it. We’ll be glad to have them.”

For more information, or if you would like to try out for the team, email or call the FishHawk Sporting Clays facility at 689-0490.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.