By Clayton Levins
A budding Jacksonville University Varsity Sporting Clays, Skeet & Trap Team turned in a strong performance recently as it hosted the Southeastern Collegiate Invitational Championships. They’ll be in position to climb even higher after an upcoming visit from members and coaches of the U.S. Olympic Shooting team — one a two-time gold medalist who made history this summer in London.
JU’s team was excited to place fourth of nine teams at the event Oct. 27, with members Julianne Evans, Alexis Crouch and Scott Hensley awarded special medals for top-five individual performances in skeet, trap and international wobble trap.
But they and other members are sure to be in for a bit of “shock and awe” Nov. 17 and 18 as two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock and Vincent’s father and Olympic coach, Craig Hancock, lead a two-day clinic at the Jacksonville Skeet and Trap Club. In London, Vincent Hancock became the first international skeet shooter to repeat as an Olympic gold medalist champion.
The clinic, designed to attract even more attention to the clay shooting sports — now the fastest-growing recreational sports in America — is also open to the public for a $375-per-person (all-day) fee. Space is limited.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to not only learn Olympic Skeet and other clay sports, but to be taught by the best of the best,” said David Dobson, JU Varsity Shooting Team founder and head coach. “This is an incredible opportunity not only for this program, but for this university and the Jacksonville community.”
Craig Hancock, who trained his son, is regarded as one of the top Olympic coaches in the world. He also is a member of the National Coaches Development Team and founded his own Hancock Shooting Academy, where he now trains young shooters in Eatonton, Ga.
Vincent Hancock, meanwhile, is a member of the Army Marksmanship Unit, was a 2008 gold medalist in Beijing and again took the gold medal this past summer in London. He is 23.
“Vincent hasn’t even begun to hit his stride yet,” Dobson said. “You’ll be seeing a lot of him in the Olympic games.”
The opportunity for the clinic came to JU because of Dobson’s longtime friendship with Craig Hancock. Dobson met Hancock and his son in 2003 while visiting as a master instructor at Lake Oconee Gun Club in Eatonton, Ga., which was run at that time by Hancock. After losing touch for a few years,
Craig sought out Dobson at the ACUI National Clay Target Championships in 2011 while Dobson was with the JU team, and the two have worked extensively ever since in developing further the collegiate element for the Scholastic Clay Target Program (www.shootsctp.org). As a result of this relationship, Dobson was able to set up this month’s event in Jacksonville.
The clinic is designed to properly teach safety and learn the game of International/Olympic skeet shooting, as well as all other clay sports. It will have an emphasis on high school and collegiate shooters, but is open to all ages.
“We want to teach people that this is beyond just shooting clay targets,” Dobson said. “It’s about learning the skills and solutions for life in terms of professionalism, both on and off the range.”
Dobson notes that clay sports are the fastest-growing club sports in America among both the high school and collegiate levels. There are now more than 225 colleges and universities that have shooting clubs. With this event, he hopes to continue that positive trend and get the word out about the impact of shooting with his shooters, the JU student body and the Jacksonville community.
To learn more about this event, including signing up, contact David Dobson at DDobsonpvb@aol.com or DDobson1@ju.edu.