Taking aim: Thomas spends time with Olympic shooters

Published 7:34 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Jackson Thomas of Pike Liberal Arts School took aim with the nation’s best at the United States Junior Olympic Development Camp and Scholastic Clay Target Program in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Thomas was one of only 24 teens selected from all over the country. He was the only one selected in the southeast and the first to be selected from Alabama.

“That was a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “I was able to go to the Olympic Training Center and stay there for a few days.”

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Thomas has been participating with Scholastic Clay Target Program for the past few years, it’s a program that is based out of Wetumpka and every year it gives teens the opportunity to participate in a camp with USA Shooting.

At the camp, Thomas was taught the art of shooting, the same disciplines taught as in international competitions including the Olympics.

“Ever year they put the out the application and only 24 get selected,” Thomas said. “I was the only one from the southeast to go. I was able to sleep and live in their dorms. You get to eat in the cafeteria with people that are currently there with different USA teams.”

While at the range, Thomas and the other participants were coached by former US Olympian Terry DeWitt.

“We shot probably about 300 shells a day,” Thomas said. “In the three days we spent at the range, each shooter shot about 800 or 900 shells while we were there.”

While they were shooting, they were getting tips and instruction on the fine arts of shooting. 

“We spent all day shooting,” Thomas said. “Members of Team USA would come to us and we would watch them shoot. They would give us advice on the paths they took to get in to the Olympics and Junior National Teams.”

Bunker Trap shooting was a discipline that Thomas had no experience in before the start of the camp. Despite the lack of experience, Thomas felt like he was able to hold his own with the top young shooters in the country.

“There aren’t many facilities in the south that have that,” Thomas said. “The coaches there were very good at teaching it. I thought I picked it up pretty quickly. In International Bunker Trap, it’s the fastest the targets fly in any of the shooting sports. They fly at 68 MPH and they come out at various angles, so you don’t know what direction it’s going to come out.”

Shooting has been a passion of Thomas ever since he was a young child and it’s a passion that grows with each passing year.

“I have been shooting shotguns, rifles and pistols for most of my life,” Thomas said. “I found this team in Wetumpka and they taught how me how to shoot trap and skeet to help me get prepared for college.”

The next step for Thomas is a tryout for the University of Alabama shooting team. One day he hopes to return to Colorado City as a member of and Olympic or national team.

“I have been in contact with the University of Alabama,” Thomas said. “I have to try out there in the fall. I have practiced with them and have been in touch with their coaches. I plan on shooting in college and I have been training to make that team. In a long time I would like to train in the international disciplines and one day make an Olympic or national team.”