By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
Born of a grass roots effort and thriving as an event that marks summer’s passage into fall, the yearly two-day Boy Scout Clay Classic unites wingshooters and shotgun enthusiasts from across the state for a good time and an excellent fundraiser.
This year’s event, the 18th annual, is set for Aug. 24 and 25 at Camp Yocona, the area Boy Scout summer camp south of Highway 278 between Pontotoc and Oxford.
Shooters may sign up at the Boy Scouts of America office at 505 Air Park Rd., in Tupelo, or by calling Ruby Richey at 842-2871, or Donnie Kisner at 821-0280.
“The Boy Scouts are a wonderful organization,” Greg Burks, one of the event’s original founders, says. “Camping, cooking on a fire, rafting, and swimming in a lake are all fun and part of it, but along the way they’re growing boys into men, and they’re getting them outdoors, exposing them to things they’d often never otherwise experience. The lessons they learn outdoors apply to situations they’ll encounter all their lives, and there’s no better place to teach them.”
Nearly two decades ago now, the first event drew two dozen shooters and raised $1,500. Last year’s Classic hosted more than 40 shooters on Friday, more than 200 on Saturday and raised around $24,000 all told.
All of the money goes directly to the Yocona Area Council, a Boy Scouts of America zone that supports more than 3,900 scouts in a dozen North Mississippi counties.
Originally a small event, the Boy Scout Clay Classic now spans two days and a number of divisions.
The first day is known as the Elite Eagle Shoot. Two-shooter teams register for $300 per team and take part in a six-station, 60-target competition. Their registration also includes four boxes of shells per shooter, a round of a sideline fun shoot and dinner.
Registration for Saturday’s Clay Classic is $100 per individual shooter or $600 per four-shooter corporate team. Here shooters bring their own shells for a 12-station, 100-target showdown.
“People just keep coming to the table and the Classic just keeps growing,” Burks says. “It’s really been the sort of thing that people come out and see once as participants or sponsors and just really fall in love with. They come back and, when they do, they want to become more involved.”