By Larry Case
In the world of competitive shotgun shooting, Makayla Scott has become a force to be reckoned with. She’s an unconquerable, resolute force of nature much like gravity, lightning or tidal waves. I don’t think she considers obstacles very much; this seventeen-year-old young woman dynamo from Alvon, West Virginia, sees the goal, revs up the engine and goes for it. You may as well get out of the way.
Things were not always like this for Scott, which only makes this story more incredible.
‘Rough Start’ is an Understatement—And it Didn’t Stop Her
“Despite my wide smile now, I had a rough start in life,” she said. “I lost my mother to a drug overdose at age five. After years of neglect and abuse, I was removed from my caretaker and brought into my new, amazing family at 10 years old. Even though I now had a family, I always struggled to fit in or find a true place I felt accepted. That was how I felt until I was introduced to shotgun sports.”
“Up to that point, I never felt I could ever believe in myself or trust anyone, but my family never gave up on me! After failing at virtually every sport I tried out for, my father and brother introduced me to the shotgun. I never knew one broken clay could change my life.”
“The shooting sports introduced me to a world I didn’t know existed. I have met so many amazing people who have helped me along the way. I won’t say my success has come easy, but I have a love and a passion for this sport that fuels my want for success.”
Being serious about competing in the shotgun world required hard work and sacrifices for Scott and her family. Lots of travel to shooting events in other states means long road trips, motels and bad diner food. Once at the event, to effectively compete, the shooter must shrug all that off and make it count: When the shotgun goes bang, targets have to break.
And make it count Scott does. Her list of accomplishments is impressive.
In 2018, Scott won Bronze in the Perazzi Grand Prix Junior Class, and she shot on the fourth-place team in the 4-H Nationals in Grand Island, Nebraska. In 2019, she took fourth place in sporting clays in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Nationals, where she was also the doubles skeet champion. 2019 also saw Scott make the North Carolina All-State Team (more on that a bit later), and she qualified for the United States Junior Olympic Trap Team, the first woman shooter from West Virginia to earn that position.
2020 has been an even better year. Scott was chosen for the 2020 NSCA-SCTP (NSCA is the National Sporting Clays Association) All-American Team, and she was also the winner of the Women’s Outdoor Media Association’s 2020 annual scholarship. Along the way, she signed on as the brand ambassador for CZ-USA firearms, MEC Outdoors and SSP Eyewear—and this just a partial list of her accomplishments.
Going for a Guinness Record
One achievement that does bear mentioning is that in October 2019, Scott qualified for the team on which Dave Miller, shotgun product manager and pro shooter for CZ-USA, chose to attempt the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of clays broken by a five-person team in 12 hours. I was there, I saw it, and it was a sight to behold.
Miller and four young teammates, including Scott, shot clays for almost 12 hours straight. I often stood behind Makayla in the gallery that day to watch her. The target would be called for, the clays would spring into the air, two sets of doubles, boom-boom, then boom-boom. Scott, like her teammates seemed to be on autopilot, and I was in awe as she downed target after target.
Recoil may not be particularly heavy with clay target loads but after 12 hours, it takes a toll. Well, on most people. I watched the shooting percentage stats as the day and the evening progressed, and Scott’s hit percentage actually went up as the day wore on. When the bell rang, the Miller team had broken 14,167 targets, setting a new Guinness record for the most clays broken by a five-person team in 12 hours.
While Scott has reached near rock-star status in the shotgun world, you would never know it from listening and being around her. It would be hard to find a more humble, gracious, and friendly individual, and you will never hear her boast about any of her many wins and awards. Still, a while ago, when she reflected on what she’d accomplished with her scattergun, she wasn’t satisfied.
A Movie Line for the Shooting Sports
“Build it and they will come” will forever be mated to baseball, but its premise has universal appeal.
“‘Field of Dreams’ started as I was being introduced to the Scholastic Clay Target Foundation” Scott explained. “SCTP is a foundation that promotes the shooting sports and helps get kids scholarships through shooting. When I joined, there were no teams in West Virginia, so I opted for a North Carolina team. I competed with the team for a year, and I realized what great things the organization does. But while I loved competing with the North Carolina team, I really wanted to represent my home state of West Virginia and my friends and family there who believed in me. I felt like I could be the foundation for starting a shotgun team right in my hometown.
“Once I told my dad my big idea, despite getting some raised eyebrows and a few ‘Are you sure you can do this?’ from other people, my father and I started planning this dream of a skeet field. We got some of our closest friends and coaches together, people we knew would support this dream just as they supported me, and we started building our ‘Field of Dreams.’ The friends and coaches who came together—Curtis Kincaid, Telford Scott, Pat McMillion, Joe Hayes, and Joe Windon—to build this field are now all team coaches. Along with our coaches, some local companies and my own personal sponsors, including Lynch Construction, Green Acres Excavating, S.J. Neathawks, CZ-USA and MEC Outdoors, also gave to the team. The field would never have even been possible without them!
When in early 2020 Scott started her West Virginia SCTP team, the Mountaineer Clay Crushers, she thought there would be maybe be five to 10 shooters join for the first year. “We now have 25 kids, and we have even been able to put together a travel team,” she said, clearly pleased at the response. “At our first competition of the year at the SCTP Regionals, our athletes represented the state well, earning several medals and receiving many compliments from other teams and staff. Now we’re preparing for the 2020 SCTP Nationals, the biggest youth shooting competition in the United States. There has never been a team from West Virginia at the competition, so bringing our team in its very first year of formation is truly a blessing.
“We plan to go even further and keep going to bigger competitions in the future,” she continued. “We have also introduced several beginning shooters to the clay sports—some have never even shot a gun before! We plan to keep introducing kids to the sport, and we hope to keep competing and, hopefully, giving kids futures through shooting sports. The biggest goal of the Mountaineer Clay Crushers is to have a field that youth can use to practice their shotgun sports totally cost-free. We are nearing that goal now, having to only charge the athletes for clays.”
An incredible force of nature who seems to achieve things with a shotgun through sheer will. A bright ray of sunshine and optimism with a smile as big as her home in the Appalachian Mountains. And a champion shooter who knows how to pay it forward. That is Makayla Scott—and the shooting community as a whole is all the better for her.
You go, girl.
About the Author
Larry Case served 36 years as a West Virginia Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officer before retiring with the rank of Captain. Today, he writes a weekly outdoor, hunting, fishing and gun related column that currently appears in eight newspapers across five states. He’s had numerous magazine articles published in Outdoor Life, American Shooting Journal, NRA American Hunter, Gun Digest, and Shoot-On.com. More of his tales can be found on his website gunsandcornbread.com.