PLEASANT GROVE, UT – The Utah Youth Education in Shooting Sports program (UTYESS) ended another record-breaking season this past weekend with the Utah State Youth Championships. This year’s event saw over 760 entries and threw over 102,000 targets; hosted at Wasatch Wing and Clay in Cedar Fort, Utah.
“Congratulations to Brian Beard and the entire Utah Youth Education in Shooting Sports organization for hosting the state’s largest competitive youth clay target tournaments; the 2020 UTYESS Junior Clay Target State Championship. Congratulations to all the placing athletes,” said Mike Borg, Founder and CEO of USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports.
In previous years the event was a two-day event, consisting of just American Skeet, American Trap, and Sporting Clays. This year’s event lasted five days and included more events than ever before. “We wanted to try something different this year,” said Brian Beard, President of UTYESS. “We wanted to bring a new level of energy to the state shoot. We did that this year by adding three new preliminary events, a battle of the coaches and sponsors, night games and music on Friday night and a banquet Saturday night in honor of those earning high-school letters in shotgun sports.”
This year the program’s youth competed in a 50-target Skeet tournament, a 100-target preliminary Trap tournament, 100-target Doubles Trap tournaments, a 50-target Wobble Trap tournament, a 200-target Championship Trap tournament, and a 100-target Sporting Clays tournament. In addition to the Utah student-athletes, participants this year also came from Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wyoming, all excited to compete alongside Utah’s student-athletes. Today, UTYESS reports that it is tracking scores for 305 youth in the program statewide, making Utah the largest USAYESS program in the nation.
“Youth shooting sports today is the nation’s fastest-growing high school sport,” said Beard. “In 2017, the year I was nominated and elected to be President of the program, we had 51 Utah athletes compete in the State Shoot. Today that is about the size of one team. The number of youth interested in shooting sports is outstanding and is going to continue to increase.”
Following the Sporting Clays competition on Sunday, the youth and their families gathered for lunch provided by UTYESS, and then a finale award and recognition ceremony where over $8,000 in trophies were awarded.
Last year, 63 High School Letters representing 16 Utah High Schools were awarded. This weekend 97 high school letters were awarded. To earn a letter, athletes need to maintain a pre-determined GPA in high school, maintain attendance at practices and competitions, achieve the required scores in shooting, complete four service projects and achieve pre-determined scores in tournaments.
The UTYESS program also awarded the Utah Rookies of the Year award and the Utah State Team awards
The state team athletes had their photos taken and will be featured on posters in many of the gun clubs throughout the state of Utah, along with their name and shooting average within the next few weeks. The winners of the Utah State Team and Rookies of the Year are posted on the organization’s website. Images of the Utah State Team poster will also be available online when the poster is finalized.
Two scholarships were also awarded by UTYESS at the Utah State Youth Championships, as part of the ACUI Clay Targets Challenge. The first $500 scholarship was awarded to Madison H., a Collegiate athlete from Riverton Shooting Club. The second $500 scholarship was awarded to Camden K, age 17, also a member of Riverton Shooting Club.
On hand were also vendors and supporters of UTYESS. Robbi Vincent, CEO of Level UP Athletics was signing student-athletes up in College Shooting Sports Recruiting. This tool allows students to enter their academic and shooting profiles and gain exposure to over 100 colleges with shooting programs.
“It was great to see the interest in College Shooting Sports Recruiting,” said Robbi Vincent. “Our proven profile-based platform helps the high school student-athlete gain exposure to all of the colleges with shooting sports teams. We look forward to helping more student-athletes with their shooting sports recruiting.”
Beard reports that several coaches and himself have received requests from schools inquiring for more information on potential college recruits for their programs.
UTYESS is funded in large by fundraising efforts conducted by the teams throughout the year. Perpetual funding is also available through the MidwayUSA Foundation’s Team Endowment Program. The MidwayUSA Foundation Team Endowment Program gives a community the ability to financially support a competitive youth shooting sports program. Teams grow their Team Endowment through fundraisers and donations. Thanks to generous donations from Larry and Brenda Potterfield, 100% of each donation goes to team endowment of a donor’s choice. Each team can then request a grant of 5% of their endowment balance once each year. Currently, Utah has $1,218,237.82 in endowment accounts held at MidwayUSA Foundation, providing an annual grant of $60,912 for Utah’s youth shooters in the UTYESS program.
Support directly from Larry and Brenda Potterfield has also been outstanding. Between 2012 and 2019 Larry and Brenda Potterfield have given Utah just over $800,000.00. Additionally, Larry and Brenda Potterfield have provided $80,483.20 in endowment matching and awards. More has come from non-cash grants that are issued via the MidwayUSA Foundation. In 2020 Larry and Brenda Potterfield have announced a donation of $35,000 for operating costs and team endowment matching.
Support for Utah’s youth shooting teams also comes from numerous other sponsors and supporters. Some of these include the NRA Foundation, ACUI Clay Target Program, Vista Outdoors, Federal Premium, Browning/Winchester, Scheels, Sportsmans Warehouse, the ATA and AIM programs, and countless others that are supporting individual teams and, in some cases, select athletes.
Federal Premium awarded one box of shotgun shells to athletes for every 25-straight shot in the Skeet and Trap events.
Gift cards were also handed out to each of the Utah team’s head coaches. “All of us in this organization are volunteers,” said Beard. “None of us are paid. We do this for the love of the sport and especially for the love of the youth in our program. Our coaches are sometimes putting in more than forty hours per week to ensure the future of Utah’s youth. I am sincerely grateful for each one of our coaches. Our organization would not be successful without the tremendous and untiring dedication of our coaches.”
UTYESS Team and their head coaches are:
UTYESS is also governed by an Executive Committee. The success and progression of the program have relied heavily on and will continue to rely on the Executive Committee and their oversight. Their combined experience in shooting sports and business management has proven beneficial in the growth of UTYESS. The UTYESS Executive Committee consists of four officers:
Beard also expressed thanks to the UTYESS Youth Committee. “We started relying on our youth more this year to help us drive our program,” said Beard. “Our youth committee this year was Grayson S. and Haylie P. They’ve been involved in grant meetings, trophy selection, shoot preparations, and press releases. This state shoot was really their event, the adult were just the facilitators. Their help has been greatly appreciated this year.”
Beard concludes with, “What’s most important in our program is the youth and their parents, family and friends that support them, drive them to practice every week, and to the competitions. Youth shooting sports is one of the most expensive and sometimes time demanding sports todays youth can choose to compete in. It would not be possible for them without the support of their family and friends.”
For more information on how you or your student-athlete can get involved in a youth shotgun shooting team in the UTYESS program, visit www.utyess.org.
About Utah Youth Education in Shooting Sports
Utah Youth Education in Shooting Sports (UTYESS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in Utah about wildlife conservation and firearm safety and promoting youth shooting sports on a competitive and scholastic level throughout the State of Utah. Our purpose is to provide training and guidance to the youth shooting programs of Utah, with the goal of developing self-confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance, respect, personal discipline, responsibility, citizenship, teamwork, and sportsmanship through regular practice and competition at local, state, and national events. For more information on UTYESS or to find a team near you, visit utyess.org or call (385) 323-0815.
About USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports
USAYESS is a non-profit organization and the nation’s only all-inclusive youth program which introduces, grows, supports, and educates youth, and their families to firearm safety, shooting sports and wildlife conservation and habitat. For more information, visit www.usayess.org
About The MidwayUSA Foundation
The MidwayUSA Foundation is a public 501(c)(3) charity, founded by Larry and Brenda Potterfield, working to sustain the shooting sports industry by providing permanent, long term endowment funding to over 3,000 youth shooting teams. Every donation made is 100% tax-deductible and supports the mission to help communities and organizations raise funds to support their youth shooting team. For more information about the MidwayUSA Foundation and the Team Endowment Account Program, please visit midwayusafoundation.org or call (877) 375-4570.