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VISSTA: Achieving Greatness With a Shotgun

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (December 18, 2018)

As you consider a year-end gift to USA Shooting, we would like to highlight the grassroot development programs that are impacting podium success for America’s Shooting Team. It ain’t quite Rocky Top, but what Chad Whittenburg has built in just a short span has people around the Volunteer state and throughout the shotgun community singing like it is.  

The VISSTA of USA Shooting’s shotgun landscape began to shift seven years ago and now this little Tennessee startup has blossomed into one of the nation’s leading developers of shotgun talent. Proof of that is in the athletes present on USA Shooting’s National and Junior National Team as well as the Junior Olympic squad.  Further evidence can be found in the medalists and representation they have in national competition.  

Rocky Top meet the Volunteer’s states newest VISSTA.  VISSTA in this cases stands for the Volunteer International Shotgun Sports & Training Association, the next logical step in Whittenburg’s grand plan. If what lies ahead is any greater than what is presently taking shape, then Tennessee just might be a hot bed of shotgun shooting for years to come. 

Get to know the VISSTA program and their athletes because you’re seeing plenty of them representing USA Shooting at all levels. Forty-five VISSTA athletes competed at the 2018 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships. If Whittenburg and his team have anything to say about it, that trend will continue well into the future.  

Powering all of this is a motto that carries Whittenburg and his team in their efforts: “A positive attitude brings strength, energy, motivation & initiative." 

“We strive to display a culture of triple positives. Positive attitudes on and off the field, positive community involvement, and positive results in the classroom,” Whittenburg states. “On the range, we work very hard to instill a positive self-image of one’s self as an athlete and a positive mental routine. These athletes have the talent and can be taught new skills. However, learning the proper way to prepare for match, shoot a match & conduct yourself ends up separating you from others.” 

Today’s reality began materializing back in 2005 when Whittenburg became the director for the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). Then there was a USA Shooting camp and coaching clinic he attended in 2006 and 2007 and the formation of the Junior Olympic Program followed in 2007.  The true international shotgun program got underway in 2010, and with support from the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF), a USA Shooting Certified Training Center was formed in 2012. 

With those roots established, Whittenburg then became the shotgun coach of Martin Methodist College (MMC) in 2014 and ever since, this Tennessee shotgun powerhouse has been firing on all cylinders. USA Shooting recognized as much in 2015 when they named Whittenburg its Development Coach of the Year.    

The VISSTA formation continues 30 miles south of Nashville in South Hill where Whittenburg finished the install on a European-style international trap bunker and brand new skeet field. Lodging and a bunkhouse are now on-site and the future plans include expanding the bunkhouse to host USA Shooting Junior Olympic Development Camps, clinics and hosting USA Shooting National Team training camps. 

Separation isn’t hard to find right now for VISSTA and MMC. The honor roll begins with the fact that 13 MMC and/or CTC athletes have been a part of USA Shooting Teams over the past five years at various levels.  Currently there are two National Team athletes in trap national champion Caleb Lindsey and Nationals silver medalist Emma Williams in Trap, three Junior National Team Members in Madelynn Bernau, Heather Broski and Eli Christman, and one National Development Team member in Grayson Davey.  Five Tennessee athletes and three MMC athletes have had the opportunity to compete at the ISSF Junior World Cup during the past three years.  The MMC team has also captured three straight SCTP Team Championships.  

The strides the entire program, including both VISSTA and MMC, have made in just a short amount of time is a testament to his athletes and their dedication to self.   

It’s what happens when people come together, have a vision and go all in, especially, as Whittenburg states, “it involves youth and seeing young athletes chase their dreams.” That is how people, athletes and a club can achieve greatness with a shotgun.

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