Shooting for gold: Cherokee County 4H Clay Crushers cash in

by by Michelle Dillon Staff Writer

The Cherokee County 4-H Clay Crushers is a small but successful youth competition shotgun team.

“This club is a good opportunity for kids to learn about shooting sports,” stated Gregg Loden, club manager and Gallatin resident. “It is a great way for them to learn to set goals and if they work hard, they will see those results.

“One of the biggest things, it teaches kids about firearm safety. This is a sport that kids can start early and carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

This team is certainly seeing results.

They competed at the San Antonio Livestock Expo in mid-February, along with 12,000 students from across the state.

John Snider won the jackpot shoot and was awarded a Blaser F-3 over/under 12-gauge shotgun, valued at nearly $10,000. Matthew Young placed second in sport clay and won a .22 rifle and a belt buckle. He also finished third in super sport, winning a second rifle and five cases of shells.

The team competed at the Houston Livestock show in late February. Snider won cash and a buckle.

Cassie Loden and Young placed fourth in their divisions, winning prizes that included a Henry lever-action rifle with a gold plate listing Houston Livestock Show, $750 cash, buckles and a $270 Ariat boots gift card from Cavenders.

Most recently, the team competed in Madison County with Young receiving high scores overall.

Past awards for club members include a $10,000 scholarship to Lauren Loden, who went on to shoot in college, and a first place finish in state last year for Young, who earned a shotgun and a free lifetime hunting license.
The team attends state shooting competitions in July as well as District 5 shoots. In addition, each county across the state will host a Whiz bang event sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Those that place at the county Whiz bang events compete in state based on their results.

The Clay Crushers has existed as a club for five years and currently has four members, although they are always accepting new members.

At its largest number, the club consisted of seven or eight members, but several have graduated and moved on to other things, according to Loden.

Because there is currently no range in Cherokee County, the team practices at the Rose City range in Tyler twice a month.

“The parents in this group are great,” stated Loden. “They are all about the kids and wanting to see them succeed. We all work together and it really is a great group of people.”

To contact the club, call (903) 343-5014 or message them on their facebook page, Cherokee County 4H Clay Crushers.