Teague Swanson, an 11-year-old student at Kyrene Altadeña Middle School, recently competed in the 2013 Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Team Shotgun Championship in Sparta, Ill., where his team won two national championships.

Swanson’s team, The Ben Avry Clay Crushers, won the national competition by beating the Michigan team in sudden death, where Swanson’s team became victorious by one point.

When the competition was finished not only did Swanson walk away with the two team national titles with his fellow teammates, but he also received an individual silver medal in skeet and an individual bronze medal in sporting clays.

Swanson’s father, Erik, spoke on behalf of his son and how he was brought into the sport of skeet shooting.

Erik said his son began to handle firearms at a young age.

When Teague was 2 years old he began learning how to handle pistols and rifles, and when he turned 8 his father began teaching him how to handle shotguns.

Teague was involved in other sporting activities around the Ahwatukee area, such as Little League baseball, where he played for the Ahwatukee Thunder, but showed more interest towards skeet shooting.

Erik said his son shows natural talent when it comes to shooting because he has two generations of family members who know how to handle firearms.

Showing talent and interest in shooting, Erik wanted to get his son involved with other kids who had outdoor families and shared similar interests in hunting and being outdoors.

He began searching for facilities offering programs they were interested in, and found the Ben Avry Shooting Range, an hour commute from their home.

“It really wasn’t about the competition it was because we are a big hunting family and living in Ahwatukee, unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of families that have similar interests, so we started looking in to other avenues to get him exposure to those who have similar interest,” Erik said. “I think there is a real value to be able to share it internally in the family.”

Teague said he has found more enjoyment from skeet shooting than other sports he has been involved with.

“The competition was really good because it wasn’t like we just showed up, do this and win. I’m proud that we did win because it was hard,” Teague said.

Teague has been a part of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Scholastic Clays Target program for the past two years now.

During the first year of Teague being a part of the program, Erik said he was impressed with the quality of the program and the quality of parents, too.

The program impressed him so much he decided to try and give back and became a coach while his son was entering his second year.

When Teague first began getting involved with the sport of skeet, his father was also taken back by the support they received from his school.

Erik said the Kyrene administration worked around their schedule in order for Teague to participate in some sporting events, which occurred during the school semester.

While handling any firearm there are expectations of using the right safety precautions and having respect for the firearm.

“There is an expectation and absolutism to the safety that our family and the people that we associate with that’s an absolute first starter,” Erik said. “The kids very early on, and the ones early to the program, all fall in line. Safety is the first, middle and last when it comes to handling a firearm. ”

What appeals to Erik about coaching and helping out with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Scholastic Clays Target Program is everyone lives by that creed for safety and it’s a none issue.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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