Any team sport fosters the camaraderie of its participants due to a common “love of the game” and team unity. The Youth Target Foundation (YTF) is no different.
Founded in 2007 by President Jeanie Almond of south Denton, the YTF was created so that no student would ever be denied inclusion from clay target shooting sports due to financial reasons.
The foundation recently received $24,000 in grants from the Dallas Safari Club for the purchase of shotguns and targets to support middle and high school teams encompassing schools in the Lewisville ISD and surrounding areas.
Under the direction of Almond and her daughter Shellee Enfinger of Double Oak, the YTF swelled from 20 participants in 2012 to nearly 200 this year.
The family sports a competitive clay target championship pedigree and Enfinger’s daughter MaKenna carries the torch as a fourth generation participant. Now they share their expertise and love of the sport with students of all ages and levels of experience. Each one gets a chance to compete. “There’s no bench in this sport…everyone gets a chance to play,” Enfinger said.
Enfinger stated the YTF’s efforts focus equally on competitive target shooting and education.
“We place extreme importance on responsibility and maintain a zero tolerance for unsafe handling of the shotguns,” Enfinger said. “In fact, we refer to the shotguns as sporting equipment; it’s the same as a bat.”
Regardless of experience, all students undergo mandatory classes totaling eight hours on safety and education. There are coaches (one per 10 kids), certified instructors who volunteer. In addition, the foundation has parent volunteers (one per five kids) which are vital to its success.
“The parents must be plugged in; it keeps the kids engaged,” Enfinger said.
Jordan Asebedo, freshman at Flower Mound Marcus High School and a member of the foundation, agreed.
“Without the parents’ involvement, we wouldn’t have a team,” Asebedo said.
Students participate in any of four different competition disciplines: skeet, trap, sporting clay and bunker. Each presents the competitor with a different method and strategy of tracking and shooting down the clay targets. While Asebedo’s favorite competition is sporting clay, he enjoys the interaction and common love for the sport with his friends.
“I like being part of the foundation because it presents a good brother/sisterhood and also promotes safety,” Asebedo said.
Competing at events also puts students in direct contact with other members of the sport.
“During competitions there are chances for the kids to intermingle with experienced shooters and even members of the U.S. Olympic competitive shooting team,” Roland Asebedo, Jordan’s father, said. “The kids are very fortunate to have that kind of interaction.”
While many students are new to the sport, some like Aaron Zarvou, a graduating senior from Argyle High School, are self-taught or have grown up around responsible use of guns most of their lives. Zarvou previously worked at a gun range as a range officer.
“I really enjoyed the people; the foundation is a great group of kids and parent volunteers,” Zarvou said.
Zarvou was one of two seniors to be awarded a $500 scholarship from the foundation.
“Instead of based on competition achievements or skill level, the scholarships get awarded to the students demonstrating respect for the guns and the other members of the club,” said Cathy Zarvou, Aaron’s mother.
The foundation presents a safe environment for students to enjoy the competition and each other’s company, but it’s just as fun for the adults.
“My favorite thing is getting to spend time with my daughter and enjoying the family tradition that this builds,” Enfinger said. “It’s great to see other families experience that as well.”
For more information about the Youth Target Foundation, visit www.youthtargetfoundation.org.