Tew time: Local joins elite college clay shooting team

Published 10:17 pm Sunday, May 24, 2009

Staff Writer

Taylor Tew has a gift, and he’s finally getting paid for it.
Tew, a graduating senior at Northside High School and native of Bath, recently signed a letter of intent to shoot for the Southeastern Illinois College Competitive Shooting Team.
He will be joining at team that placed third overall in the ACUI Intercollegiate Clay Target Championship, which was held from March 18 to 22 at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas.
The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) tournament consisted of six shooting competitions: International Trap, International Skeet, American Trap, American Skeet, Five Stand, and Sporting Clays.
Tew, 18, said he is excited to join the skilled shooting team. His big opportunity came one Sunday morning when he took a surprise call from SIC shooting team coach Bruce Hering
“They offered me a scholarship on the spot,” he said.
And, of course, Tew took it.
He had never talked to Coach Hering before, and had never heard of SIC, but Coach Hering knew plenty about Tew, and his skilled shooting.
Coach Hering and his assistants watched Tew go to work on some sporting clays in a shooting competition in Ohio, according to Tew’s grandfather, Grant, who was with him on the trip.
“They watched him for his personality. They watched him and they liked what they saw,” the elder Tew said.
The SIC team also tracked the younger Tew in Sporting Clays Magazine, the official publication of the National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA).
Tew has been featured in the No. 1 magazine for sporting clays several times since he started shooting competitively at age 13.
His first competition came at the Log-a-Load for Kids Sporting Clays Miracle Shoot at Hunter’s Pointe. Without a lick of professional training, Tew took the competition. He finished first in the wobble stand competition and placed second in the first flight shoot, giving him first-place overall.
Tew’s father, Troy, and grandfather, Grant, saw something special in their boy and encouraged him to keep shooting away.
“We said, ‘He shot really well. Lets bring him back out here and let him shoot some,” the eldest Tew said.
That year, the youngest Tew won all the Hunter’s Pointe shoots at the sub-junior competitive level, earning him a place on the all-state sub-junior team.
Tew upped the expectations in 2005 when he won the NSCA East Coast Championship at the sub-junior level.
He’s won shooting competitions across the country with no more training than subtle tips from his father and grandfather, both recreational hunters.
“Most of my coaching has been from (my grandfather) and my dad,” the youngest Tew said.
The eldest Tew said his grandson doesn’t need any training — he has an uncanny natural ability to shoot sporting clays.
“He’s got exceptional hand-eye coordination,” Grant said.
The youngest Tew said it’s all in his hands.
“I’m really good with my hands,” said Taylor, who was a member of Northside football program for four years.
But good hands did not necessarily give the youngest Taylor a golden gun. In all of his success, he has yet to be offered a sponsorship from a major shotgun manufacturer or supplier.
Without sponsorship money coming in, all of his travels have been paid in full by his family.
“Most of it has been family maintained,” said the eldest Tew. “I’ll finance a trip. Troy will finance a trip, too.”
If anything, not getting sponsored has helped Taylor competitively. He said that having his father and grandfather by his side at every competition has helping him become a more refined shooter.
“I’ve always had my dad there besides me. He’s always helped me through everything,” said the youngest Tew.
The eldest Tew, a retired North Carolina highway patrolman, used to shoot pistols competitively. He said he has tried to teach his grandson everything he learned about concentration.
“If that youngin’ has heard focus one time, he’s heard it 10 million times,” Grant said.
Right now, Taylor is focusing on his move to SIC, which is located in Harrisburg, Ill., in mid-June. He hopes that by joining the team in the summer he can find his aim quicker and reach his ultimate goal — competing for the U.S. Shooting Team.
“Right now, I’m currently a B-Class (shooter),” he said. “I’m trying to get high enough ranked to where I can shoot with the U.S. team.”
In the meantime, he plans on graduating from SIC with an associate’s degree in game preserve management and sporting clays complex management.