• Members of the T-County Clay Busters, a trap shooting team consisting of Tipton County students, traveled to Missouri earlier this week to compete in the national championships for the first time in program history. Courtesy photo

Richard Griggs wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he took 13 shooters and several coaches to Lynn Creek, Mo. for the AIM Grand Trap Shooting Nationals earlier this week.

A group of shooters from his T-County Clay Busters organization won the program’s first state title last month, but this was the first time the team had been to nationals.

Would they be in over their heads? Turns out they would not.

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Tyler Johnson, a freshman from Munford High School, won a national title in his class and he was a member of a four-person team that finished second in the nation.

This is the first year Johnson has shot competitively.

“To walk away with a national championship as a first-year shooter, that’s something,” said Griggs, who is the president of T-County Clay Busters, a shooting team that includes students in grades 5 through 12 from Brighton, Munford and Covington. “I’m more proud to see that happen than anything. He’s very good at what he does.”

Johnson hit 188 of 200 targets at the event, which was Monday and Tuesday.

When shooters hit 25 or 50 targets in a row, which Johnson did, tradition calls for the shooter’s hat to be thrown in the air and shot at by his teammates.

“They try and fill it full of holes,” Griggs said. “It was a special moment for all of them.”

Johnson and sub-junior teammates Peyton Whitesides, Logan Campessi and Connor Bradshaw nearly earned the Clay Busters’ second national title, but had to settle for second.

Much of the teams’ season was lost due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The team returned to action in mid-May, becoming the first organized sport in Tipton County to resume workouts during the pandemic. They socially-distanced, encouraged mask-wearing and did temperature checks at practices.

“Considering the hand we were dealt this year and not being able to do some of the things we normally do, I think we came across real well,” Griggs said.