Teen fires up skeet-shooting program

TULSA, Okla. - Jon Michael McGrath picked up a shotgun for the first time when he was 11. Two years later he has five world titles, is the youngest skeet shooter ever to be named All-American and in May brought his sport to Oklahoma youths.

McGrath, a Cherokee, and Olympic skeet shooter Shawn Dulohery helped kick off the state's Scholastic Clay Target Program on May 14 at Tulsa Gun Club. The two staged a demonstration for Tulsa-area high school and junior high school students before the start of the state's first SCTP match.

"I'm excited to work with young shooters," McGrath said. "SCTP's a great program. It teaches the skills needed for what could be a lifelong sport. If we can get a lot of new shooters started, that's great because they're the future of the sport."

Nearly 40 states and 3,000 children are in SCTP, a program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. This is the first year the program has been offered in Oklahoma.

"It's great to have a role model like Jon Michael that these young athletes can learn from and relate to," said Cyndi Dalena, NSSF director of shooting sports development.

McGrath, a Tulsa native, won gold at the 2003 World Skeet Championship just four months after being introduced to shotgunning. In 2004 he multiplied his world titles by taking gold medals at the Junior World Skeet Championship in 28 gauge, doubles, .410 bore and overall.

In January, he was selected to the National Skeet Shooting Association's All-American Team as captain of the Sub-Junior 1st Team. He received his All-American ring May 13 during a school assembly at Marquette Catholic School in Tulsa.

Dulohery, a 2004 Olympic skeet team member and longtime member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, presented him with the ring.

SCTP was developed by the NSSF and offers children in grades 12 and under the opportunity to compete as a team in trap, skeet and sporting clays for state and national championships as well as college scholarships. The program is designed to teach safe firearms handling, commitment, responsibility, leadership and teamwork. For more information, call Roger Strong, Oklahoma SCTP state director, at (918) 231-3408.

On the Net: National Shooting Sports Foundation, www.nssf.org

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