With Prescott Bird Busters’ standout 2015-16 in books, new season on horizon

Prescott Bird Busters youth scholastic clay target shooters, from left, in the front row, Jacob Steiner, Samantha Witty, Lewis Aul and Josh Steiner. In the back row, Simon Stull, Nick Sallee, Jakob Woods and John Michael Cleland. Not pictured: Brandi Goss, Cole Parrish, Colton Underwood, Joseph Witty and Ellie Wachtel.

Photo by Doug Cook.

Prescott Bird Busters youth scholastic clay target shooters, from left, in the front row, Jacob Steiner, Samantha Witty, Lewis Aul and Josh Steiner. In the back row, Simon Stull, Nick Sallee, Jakob Woods and John Michael Cleland. Not pictured: Brandi Goss, Cole Parrish, Colton Underwood, Joseph Witty and Ellie Wachtel.

PRESCOTT VALLEY – As the Prescott Bird Busters’ co-ed youth skeet, sporting clays and trap team prepares to embark on its 2016-17 season, it’s important to note the Prescott Valley-based squad’s primary accomplishments within the past year.

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Prescott Bird Busters Joseph Witty, left, and Cole Parrish hold the Arizona Game and Fish Scholastic Clay Target Commissioners’ Cup Skeet Varsity State Championship trophy that they won with teammate Colton Underwood in April.

The following is a listing of the team shooters’ accolades in 2015-16, as well as what some of them are looking forward to in the coming year. The 2016-17 season kicks off Dec. 3 and 4 with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Scholastic Clay Target Fun Shoot at the Ben Avery Clay Target Center in Carefree.

• Lewis Aul: Aul of the Senior/Varsity Division was a member of the Bird Busters’ Varsity squad that placed third at the Game and Fish Scholastic Clay Target Commissioners’ Cup Trap State Championship in April.

• John Michael Cleland: Cleland was a member of the Bird Busters’ Junior Varsity squad with Brandi Goss and Simon Stull that placed third at the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Sporting Clays State Championship. In April at the Commissioners’ Cup Trap State Championship, Cleland won the Men’s Junior Varsity Division and placed third overall with his squad in the Junior Varsity division.

• Brandi Goss: At the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Skeet State Championship in April, Goss placed third in the Women’s Junior Varsity Division and was a member of the third-place Junior Varsity squad. Goss then went on to win the Senior Division in the Doubles Trap Women’s competition and place second in the Bunker Trap Women’s competition at the Commissioners’ Cup Junior Olympic State Championship.

• Cole Parrish: At the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Sporting Clays State Championship, Parrish took second place with the Bird Busters’ Varsity squad, which also included Colton Underwood and Joseph Witty. In addition, Parrish, Underwood and Witty repeated as Varsity squad winners in the Commissioners’ Cup Skeet State Championship. Parrish, a Bradshaw High graduate, has since left the Bird Busters to join the Navy.

• Nick Sallee: At the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Skeet State Championship in April, Sallee was on the Junior Varsity squad that placed third. He also took third with the Junior Varsity squad in the Trap State Championship.

• Jacob Steiner: Steiner placed third individually in the Men’s Intermediate Division at the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Sporting Clays State Championship. In April, he placed second individually at the Skeet State Championship and also won the individual Trap State Championship for his division.

• Joshua Steiner: At the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Skeet State Championship in April, Joshua was on the Varsity squad that placed third overall.

• Simon Stull: Stull was a member of the Junior Varsity Division squads that placed third at both the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Sporting Clays and Trap State Championships in April.

Other notable achievement: Sub Junior runner-up at Arizona Trap Shooting Association State Championships on March 5.

• Colton Underwood: Underwood earned high overall runner-up honors at the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Lower Western Conference’s International Championships in February.

At the Arizona Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Sporting Clays State Championship, Underwood competed for the Varsity squad that took second place alongside Cole Parrish and Joseph Witty. Underwood was also on the Varsity skeet state championship squad with Parrish and Witty.

Other notable achievement: Junior runner-up at Arizona Trap Shooting Association State Championships on March 5.

• Ellie Wachtel: Wachtel placed second in the Collegiate Women’s Division at the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Trap State Championship in April. She also earned third-place honors in the Women’s Collegiate Division for Trap at the ACUI Lower Western Conference’s American Championships in January.

• Joseph Witty: In 2016 Joseph became the only athlete in the nation recognized as a Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF)/NRA Academic All-American in both International (Olympic) Skeet and American Skeet.

A 2016 Bradshaw Mountain High graduate who’s now a freshman at Yavapai College, Joseph was also an SSSF/NRA All-American Scholarship Awardee who made the Arizona Skeet Association’s All-State Team.

Among his best finishes were: High Overall runner-up in the ACUI Lower Western Conference-American Championship and overall skeet champion in January; High Overall champ at the ACUI Lower Western Conference-International in February; Varsity squad state champion in the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Skeet State Championship in April; Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Junior Olympics State Championship Men’s International Skeet Champion; and bronze medal winner for Men’s International Skeet in the Scholastic Clay Target Program National Championships at the U.S. Olympic Center in Colorado Springs in July.

Other notable accomplishments came at Arizona Skeet Shooting Association events, including: Junior Champion in Doubles at Veterans Memorial Nov. 7, 2015; high overall third place and Junior runner-up at the Tucson Club Championship Dec. 4, 2015; high overall Champion and Junior Champion at the Stage Coach Open Jan. 2; high overall Junior champion at the Bill Holgate Memorial Jan. 22; Junior runner-up at Old Pueblo March 9; high overall Junior 3 at the Arizona State Championship April 8; and high overall Champion and Junior champion at the Phantom Club Championship April 17.

Joseph said his goal is to qualify for the U.S. Junior Olympic National Development Team in hopes of later vying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in international skeet. He will spend two more years as a Junior shooter (ages and 20 and under) on the international side.

• Samantha Witty: Samantha, Joseph’s 14-year-old younger sister, is a rising star. In the Intermediate/Advanced Division (seventh and eighth graders), she placed third in the women’s Arizona Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Sporting Clays State Championship as an eighth grader at Bradshaw Mountain Middle School.

Samantha, currently a freshman at Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center (AAEC) in Prescott Valley, moved on in April to place third at the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Trap State Championship in the Intermediate/Advanced Division.

At the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Junior Olympics State Championship, Samantha won the Intermediate Division of the Bunker Trap Women’s competition. In July, she finished third in Bunker Trap-Women’s at the Scholastic Clay Target Program National Championships in Colorado Springs.

• Jakob Woods: Woods won the high overall title in the men’s Varsity Division at the Game and Fish Commissioners’ Cup Trap State Championship in April. He was also on the Varsity squad that placed third at that tournament.