By ANGYE MORRISON
The "PULL for The KT Team" sporting clay event is being held Aug. 15 at Bay Gall Sporting Clays. The event is a fundraiser for The KT Team, a local nonprofit that provides opportunities for disabled hunters to continue spending time hunting and enjoying the outdoors.
The shoot is designed as a fun day of breaking clays, and is a 100-target, one flight/one course event for shooters of all skill levels. Individuals can participate for $125, while teams can sign up at $500. The event will be held on Aug. 15, from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deadline to sign up is Aug. 1. All funds raised will benefit the work of The KT Team.
The KT Team was founded by Jason Beard and Kerry Terrell in July 2017. Beard was left paralyzed after fracturing his C4 and C5 vertebras in his late teens. Very active before the accident, Beard wanted to continue hunting, including turkey hunting. He says he wasn’t very successful at it — until he met Terrell, who found a way to get his friend into the woods to hunt. The two have been hunting together for about 20 years.
That friendship and a mutual love for the outdoors, coupled with their faith, led the men to start The KT Team, which originally included Beard and Terrell, along with Trey Miller and Elmer Miller. Since then, the team has expanded to include WC Hodges, Zach Conaway, Matt Van Cise, Travis Timms, Steve Sanders and Dave Owens. There are also many volunteers and family members who generously give of their time to make the outdoors accessible to the physically challenged.
When the team takes a group out for a deer hunt, there are about eight to 12 hunters. For a dove hunt, they average around 20 to 30 people. The team also offers fishing excursions. There is a lot of planning that goes into each hunt: hotel rooms have to be booked, handicap accessible vans must be available, and there must also be at least three men assisting each disabled hunter.
None of the hunters has to provide any equipment. Since The KT Team is nonprofit, fundraisers like the clay shoot help to provide whatever equipment the hunters need. All accommodations and meals are also provided.
Beard says the team is constantly working to include whatever outdoor experiences their participants have a passion for.
“When you have a tragic accident of some sort like I had, you lose so much that it’s really important to hang on to what you can do, to continue your quality of life. There’s quite a bit of things that you can’t do, that’s physically impossible. So we have developed some techniques that help people overcome their disabilities. But it took years to do so. We’re still developing ways to get out in the woods,” Beard said.
The team has golf carts with ramps on them, and provides specialized equipment to help disabled hunters. They have worked with Georgia Southern University to develop special wheelchairs and guns for hunting. Beard uses a joystick to maneuver his own gun, and a straw to fire the trigger.
Beard says they hope to establish a lodge and rehabilitation center so that hunters won’t have to worry about travel issues or hotels that aren’t set up to accommodate their needs. The team plans to work on raising funds for that in the future, he says.
To register to participate in the clay shoot or purchase tickets, or to find out more about The KT Team or donate, go online at www.thektteam.org. You can also contact the team for speaking engagements through the site, and find out more about the team’s fundraising efforts.