The thunderous roar of shotgun blasts echoed through the trees of the Great Smoky Mountain foothills this weekend. Clay discs soared, only to meet their destructive demise at the hands of marksmen of all skill levels. This gathering of shooting enthusiasts at the Chilhowie Sportsmen’s Club in Maryville, Tennessee, aimed to raise funds and awareness for the Helen Ross McNabb Center, a behavioral health services center in Knoxville. Two of the 36 teams on hand throughout the two-day Summer Clayfest Tournament were comprised of Endeavor technicians.
“Lots of the guys here in Knoxville go shooting on Fridays, many of us try to go every week,” said Eric Pistole, AMT, TYS. “When I saw the flyer go up for the event registration, I thought this would be the perfect event for us to get into.”
Working with Joe Williams, TYS Base Manager, and Kevin Kyro, Director, Maintenance Quality, the two teams were able to secure shooting slots in a field of more than 30 teams. The event offered an opportunity for each participant to shoot 10 rounds of 10 shots each, with the goal of striking flying sporting clay discs – called “pigeons” – before they hit the ground. Collectively, Endeavor employees were able to pool together a donation of $1,300 to support the event.
“We had a really tough time finding a community service event that our third-shift guys could participate in,” noted Williams. “This event really fell in the middle of the culture of what our team in Knoxville likes to do, which made it very appealing to the guys who signed up.”
Most of the Endeavor participants brought years of sport shooting experience. Anthony Stewart, an Inspector in TYS, says he’s been shooting for more than three decades.
“This was a really tough, but really good event,” admitted Stewart. “I’m really proud that Endeavor offered this opportunity to participate and support this organization right here in our community.”
The mountain at Chilhowie was set up in two different courses – the A Course set in a valley amidst tattered trees and fallen shrub, and the B Course, offering stunning views of the Smokys just beyond the range of their gun sights. Each station along the course flung its pigeons in contrasting direction and speed, making each shot a challenge. When all of the shattered clays settled, Stewart and his team – comprised of Joel Brashear, Jesse Adams, Jeremy Weber, and Ty Sandefur – placed third in their division, earning them a cooler cup and handshake from the event’s celebrity host.
“I’ve always wanted a picture with that guy,” said Sandefur, AMT, TYS. “This event was really awesome, I had a great time getting to know my coworkers better outside of the hangar.”
“Events like this are a lot of fun and build camaraderie with your coworkers,” added Joel Brashear. “It’s really important to give back and support groups like the McNabb Center. This was just a really good group of guys that came together for a great cause.”