By Kyle Jillson | March 30 2013 18:12

ACUI shotgun tournament brings hundreds of shooters from dozens of colleges

Bethel University shooter at the ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas - Hoofing it back to the skeet fields at the NSSA-NSCA National Shooting Complex, hundreds of collegiate shooters with shotguns and dreams welcome the day's American Skeet Championships.

Developed as a method of perfecting wing-shooting skills for bird hunting, skeet quickly grew into a competitive sport of its own. Its practically the same competition as International Skeet. The primary differences is that American Skeet is a little easier and tends to produce higher scores.

Skeet shooter tosses his shells at the ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas

Shooters still compete on a half-circle field with eight stations; seven along the curve and one in the center of the straightedge. A squad of shooters stays together, takes turns at a designated station, and advances to the next.

At each corner of the semicircle is a house that launches clay pigeons from varying heights; the high house at ten feet and the low house at three. Despite the differences in houses, both throw their targets to the same height and distance.

Kansas State University shooter at the ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas

As the shooters make from one station to the next, they will face a variety of combinations as one house throws a target, or both throw simultaneously. Clays must be broken before they reach the ground in order to be registered as a hit.

Shooters must adjust their lead - aiming ahead of a moving target to account for the speed and angle it's traveling - on every target from station to station. Mastering the challenge can produce a winning score. Falter and you're a spectator.

University of Missouri shooter at the ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas

Another thing to consider is that you're only allowed one shot. So if you miss ... that's it.

Unlike the International version, there are no finals for American Skeet. There is, however, a pseudo-finals when ties are involved.

American Skeet shooter at the ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas

Here's a real life example. There are currently five men tied with scores of a perfect 100. They (and anyone else who shoots a 100) will need to engage in a sudden-death shoot-off after everyone has finished their regular rounds of skeet.

This set up allows for a truly exciting final. But, much like this weekend's games during the NCAA March Madness, that isn't always guaranteed. Such is the case with the women, where a sole shooter leads with a 99.

Bethel University shooters at the ACUI Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas

As one might expect, Lindenwood is leading the American Skeet team race. Their top team, Lindenwood #1, notched a 490 out of 500 possible points. Their nearest threat (from Texas A & M) is three points behind.

But today has just begun. There are still several events left to be shot. And later tonight, there are even a few gun raffles to add to the excitement. Now back to the fields.

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