By Stephanie DuPont
Plink! Plink! Plink! That is the sound made when a bullet impacts a steel target. Welcome to the exciting world of action shooting, a sport like no other offering an absolutely “level playing field” across genders and age.
The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) is the national governing body for the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP), offering youth from grade school through college the opportunity to safely participate in exciting team-based action shooting sports.
SASP is designed to instill in youth a set of personal values and character traits for fair play, compassionate understanding, individual responsibility, sportsmanship, self-discipline, and personal commitment. These qualities and the sport itself will stay with these young participants throughout their lifetimes, helping each youth athlete reach his or her full potential.
One such youth athlete is Lee resident Padraic “Paddy” Sullivan. At just 20 years old, this young man has won dozens of national titles within the SASP universe and beyond. And during the 2019 SASP National Championship held July 13 to 20 at the Cardinal Shooting Center in Marengo, OH, Paddy added numerous wins to his already impressive record. He placed Top Male (first overall) and first place Men’s Collegiate for Centerfire Pistol, Top Male (first overall) and first place Men’s Collegiate in the 1911 discipline, and eighth overall and first place Men’s Collegiate in Iron Rifle. He also placed twentieth overall in Pistol Caliber Carbine, but he would call that a “not so stellar performance,” even though most of us would not be able to even place that high were we to attempt competition. On a positive note, he placed second Men’s Collegiate in the Pistol Caliber Carbine discipline.
In the SASP, youth may participate using .22 rifles, .22 handguns and/or centerfire handguns.
The targets they shoot at are steel circle or rectangular plates designed to resist ricochets, which are arranged in stages. All courses of fire are timed events. Athletes compete in squads and shoot stages multiple times. Penalties are assessed for missed targets and procedurals. The slowest score for each stage is dropped, and the remaining scores are tallied for a stage score. Then, the stage scores are added for a total match score. Awards are given for top performers overall for Men’s and Women’s, also for divisions and grades for Men’s and Women’s.
Let me tell you, this kid Paddy is a beast. I have only witnessed him shoot for the past five years, but I’m impressed beyond measure. Ever mindful of the timer yet heedful of safety, Paddy shoots with complete accuracy and a sincerely humble attitude. He understands that he can learn from different situations to be better. Focused, determined, and always welcoming a challenge, he has risen over the years as a shining star in the shooting sports and one to follow the example of. The SASP’s mission of values resonate through Paddy on and off the shooting range. When I called him to congratulate him on all his achievements last weekend and for comment for this article, all he replied was, “Thanks.” Because he was busily attempting to pay his tuition bill from Berkshire Community College, where he is majoring in Criminal Justice. Did I also mention he is often a man of few words? But mention the PCC he built with this conversion kit, and you better have at least an hour of free time so you can chat with him all about it.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. The SSSF’s goal is to introduce youth shooting sports to as many of today’s youth as possible, helping them use sports to develop and grow, those just like Paddy Sullivan. The closest SASP team to our area is the Holyoke Revolver Club Steel Shooters located in Holyoke, MA. The closest SCTP (Scholastic Clay Target Program) team in our area is the LSA Buckshots located at Lee Sportsmen’s Association. To find out more about the SSSF’s programs, please visit https://sssfonline.org/.
Stephanie DuPont is on the board of directors for the Lee Sportsmen’s Association and a columnist for the Berkshire Record. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.