DEWITT FISH & GAME CLUB has become central New York’s premier clay target shooting club in the decades since. Tucked within tree-lined surroundings of Jamesville, New York, Dewitt boasts eight trap fields, five skeet fields, 5-stand, a rifle/pistol range, and more—top-notch facilities that draw sportsmen of all ages and skill levels to the club.

Over the years, Dewitt Fish & Game has hosted a number of prestigious events, including several state skeet and trap championships, the Police Olympics, Empire State Games, and the 2019 New York State High School Clay Target League Skeet State Tournament. “That was our first time hosting the tournament, and it was a great opportunity for kids of all ages to show off the skills they learned during the year,” said Ed Pugliese, who coaches Dewitt’s youth shooters. “Our fields are spread across the club property, which allowed each competitor’s friends and family members to follow and observe each individual and their teammates.”

The 2019 event went so well that Dewitt Fish & Game has been selected to
host the state tournament again in 2021, something Pugliese and other Dewitt members are looking forward to. “High school participation provides a unique opportunity for us to reach a large audience of young people who may not otherwise have realized that sport shooting and training opportunities even existed locally,” he said. Pugliese said the New York State High School Clay Target League plays an integral role in developing the next generation of athletes by providing the structure, opportunity, training, and support they need while increasing their
overall confidence. “The enthusiasm kids bring to our shooting sports is terrific,” he said. “Watching a young shooter start with a little hesitancy and uncertainty when firing their first shotgun round to seeing them become confident and proficient in hitting most—if not all—25 targets is rewarding for everyone.”

In addition to League competition, local students as young as 12 through those in high school take part in Dewitt’s Thursday night youth shooting program. Each season begins with an information session covering program criteria, safe shooting, and an overview of skeet and trap. Before participating in any training or shooting activities, all new student participants must attend a firearm safety session. All these efforts help ensure that Dewitt remains open and available as its current members pass the torch to those coming through the ranks. “Our members have always been willing to step up and support our young teams financially and as volunteers,” Pugliese said. “Today, more than ever, we all have to be proactive in our support of the kids as our future and be sure to take
every opportunity to show someone our sport.”

One of the best things about skeet and trap is their accessibility and year-
round availability, Pugliese said. Plus, New York’s 12-year-old age requirement gives young shooting enthusiasts plenty of time to become proficient skeet, trap, and sporting clays shots. “This sport is not just limited to one young shooter: brothers, sisters, mom, and dad can all participate together,” he said. “And, unlike football or even golf, you can practice and shoot through all of central New York’s varied seasons—and do it for a lifetime.” And for those students who’ve yet to give the sport a try? Pugliese offers a simple suggestion. “Shooting sports like trap, skeet, and sporting clays are unique compared to the more traditional high school athletic programs,” he said. “If you have the desire to learn and the willingness to accept responsibility, we invite you to come out and explore the excitement of breaking a speeding clay target. It doesn’t compare to anything else.”