The Gaston Young Guns Shooting Sports Team started in early 2007. Phil Digh, a lifelong Gaston County resident, shooting enthusiast and certified NRA shotgun instructor started searching for a skeet team for his son to be involved. After searching, Phil realized the only available team in the region was the Gaston Day School team, a private group that was only accessible to students of Gaston Day. The Gaston Day coaches allowed his son Michael to shoot with them occasionally; however, he could not be part of the team.
In 2007, Phil decided to form a public team with three youth members. Both teams were doing well, but membership was low and neither had enough members to participate in competitions. Later that year, the two teams informally consolidated with the help of the national youth group, Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP), and formed a team that was available to the public. The consolidation was a difficult balance as only parts of the team were open to the public. In 2008, under the direction of Phil Digh, the public portion of the team took the name of The Target Terminators and separated from the school.
The Target Terminators experienced immediate success earning two North Carolina SCTP titles and went on to the National SCTP championship in San Antonio, Texas where the team captured the Rookie National title. Later in 2008, the team chose the name Gaston Young Guns and in 2009 were incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
As the team organized, the push to increase membership began. The team has continued to grow and today is open to all youth in grades 5th – 12th and is one of the strongest in the country comprised of nearly 50 youth members, and numerous coaches and adult volunteers. Team achievements have been staggering, and the success of the program is known nationally. Pictures of team members and stories of their success are regularly published in the National Skeet Shooting Association magazine. The team has a very strong reputation of producing responsible youth shooting athletes, who are respectful and well-disciplined.
- Introduce young men and women in our communities to Shooting Sports
- Promote better understanding of shooting sports through an ongoing program of professional coaching and participation
- Promote the safe and enjoyable handling of firearms as sporting instruments
- Build confidence and self-esteem through team practice, training and competitive shooting sports
- Encourage family support and involvement at all levels of the game
- Promote the “Team Concept”