Deb Abraham Spalding
AIM stands for Academics, Integrity, and Marksmanship. It’s the youth program for the ATA (Amateur Trapshooting Association), a national and worldwide program. “This is a sport,” explained Maryland AIM Director, Chuck Farmer, “and it’s the safest sport you can play. Safety is built into the program, so there aren’t accidents. It builds the responsibility, respect, and discipline that carries on to everything else in life. That’s what sports are really about, and ALL that shooting sports are about- and it’s FUN!”
Farmer took the lead when the AIM program was moved to Thurmont two years ago. Dick Hughes had run the program for many years at Harvey’s Cedar Gun Club near Baltimore but turned it over to Farmer as the new director when his attention shifted in other directions.
In Thurmont, Farmer has appreciated the many volunteers who have stepped forward to create an active committee of support. Older trapshooters, members of area sportsman’s clubs, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, and other professional adult volunteers dedicate time and effort to the annual event. He said, “It’s a good thing to have it here in Frederick County.” Now, a non-profit Maryland State AIM committee has been formed. “It’s all about growing the youth programs,” he added. “We’d like to expand to make Frederick County the central hub in Maryland for all youth-shooting sports, including sporting clays, skeet, five-stand, trap, and the pistol and rifle shooting sports.”
AIM encompasses and supports all the area’s youth trapshooting organizations including 4-H Shooting Sports, Boy Scouts, High School Rodeo Shooting Sports, Conservation club teams, USA High School Clay Target teams, Scholastic SCTP teams (there’s one starting up in Thurmont and one currently at Mt Airy IWLA). To form a team, a squad of at least five shooters is required. Call Chuck Farmer at 301-988-2809 or email MDATA.AIM@yahoo.com with inquiries.
On June 12, 2021, AIM members hosted the Maryland State AIM Championship at the Sportsman’s Club in Thurmont. Four age groups comprise the AIM program: Pre-Sub (11 and under); Sub Junior (12-14), Junior 15-18, and Junior Gold (up to age 23). The day after this shoot, the Pennsylvania State AIM Shoot was held in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Farmer said, “It’s a state competition, but you’re really competing against yourself. You’re earning targets to go towards the bigger contests. That’s why you’ll see youngsters side-by-side with adults while competing and everyone competes on their own level and ability. The best part is that anyone can participate- even if you are in a wheel chair.”
Grand American Nationals are coming up from July 30 to August 3 in Sparta, Illinois, with shooters from countries all over the world. At that event, there will be Olympic shooters, professional shooters, youth shooters, and more.
Farmer shared, “We probably have already 15-20 from the area’s new high school clay target team (Frederick Stars & Stripes) that are interested in going to the National event. The Grand American is rich with history with many people who participated over the years such as Annie Oakley, Roy Rogers and John Philip Sousa.” The Grand American at the World shooting Complex is the largest shooting competition in the World with a trapshooting firing line over 3.5 miles long. The World Shooting Complex is also the current home of the Trapshooting Hall of Fame Museum and worth a visit if in the area.
Brian Ferris, Director of a new program in West Virginia, will host their first State Shoot in Winchester, Virginia, July 10 and 11, trying to model after Maryland’s AIM program.
AIM members may go to any local gun club, or even visit another club to shoot while on vacation. The kids are the future of their clubs and of the sport. The Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club (TCSC) hosts frequent shooting opportunities. If someone would like to make a contribution to AIM or the Club, they can do that.
Vice President at TCSC, Jeff Plum, is also the Thurmont Sportsman’s Club’s pool chairman. He said, “The pool is open,” and encourages membership at the Club.
Special thanks are extended to all the sponsors, including the Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club, Brunswick ACE Hardware, Butler Tire, Rentals Unlimited, Whistle Stop Smokehouse, National Wild Turkey Federation, NFM Lending—Jeremy Poling, MD State High School Clay Target League, Shotgun Shooting Supplies, J&B Real Estate—Elle Smith, Evolve Stone, PJ’s Roofing, Tuscarora Gun Club, R&R Guns, Hafers & Skeeter’s Gun Shop.
Special thanks also to the event’s caterer, Mission BBQ, and Rita’s Italian Ice who provided the treat trailer.
Maryland AIM Director, Chuck Farmer, explains the rules and process of the Annie Oakley competition during the MD State AIM Championship on June 12, 2021.
Shooters rotate turns and positions in groups of up to five per squad.
Shoot Out winner, Tami Nanan, won the coveted Maryland State Leather Shooting Bag, donated by Shamrock Leathers.