Last summer when Shelby Skaggs was hired to coach the newly formed Redlands Community College Shooting Sports team, she was already at a recruiting disadvantage since many students had already signed with other colleges. She made the decision to hold open tryouts for any Redlands students who were interested in joining the team. The gamble paid off, with five of the nine-member team qualifying for the national competition.
“This first year has been a roller coaster from taking the team to their first competition to shooting their personal records, and then topping it off with five students qualifying for the NCSSAA National Championships,” said Skaggs, the Redlands coach and a member of the Oklahoma Trapshooting Hall of Fame. She also ranked second on the All-American shooting team and won the 2020 Lady 1 Clay Target championship.
Earlier this month, she took five students to the National Collegiate Shooting Sports Athletic Association (NCSSAA) National Championships in Las Vegas where they competed against 46 other Shooting Sports teams in sporting clays, skeet and trap. The experience was not only memorable for the new team, but also successful for the students who faced more than 1,500 competitors.
The team placed fifth overall as well as fifth in trap and ninth in both skeet and sporting clays. Griffin Behrens, of Calera, tied for first place in trap with a perfect score of 100/100, and, after a shoot off against the other competitors in first place, he finished in fifth place. Also, in trap, John Hilliard, of Oklahoma City, finished in ninth, tying for 10th place were Brian Jones, of Thomas, and Dru Steffes, of Canute, and Aaron Broyles, of El Reno, finished in 14th place. Jones also finished in 14th place for sporting clays and 20th in skeet. Hilliard finished in 16th place in skeet, while Steffes was in 20th place.
After a successful first season for the program, Behrens is already looking forward to next season. “It’s honestly an amazing privilege that I can say I was on Redlands’ first ever shooting sports team. Shooting at Nationals was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
Jones said, “At the beginning of the first semester when I joined the team, I never believed I would’ve been in Vegas to shoot. I just wanted to have fun and to make some new friends. Not only did I have fun, but I made lifelong buddies.”
The popularity of shooting sports is skyrocketing across the country. According to Financial News, recreational shooting sports revenue is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.6 percent. With the success of its first season and the leadership of Skaggs, the program has a solid foundation.
Skaggs approached this inaugural season with the goals of building a team Redlands could be proud of and preparing every team member to compete to the best of his or her ability. With six returning team members and nine recruits, she will continue to build on the team’s success and to continue to develop as a coach.