National Champion Jasper Copelan — who teaches shooting at Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds — has more success in his sights.

From the state-of-the-art shooting and off-road facilities to the picturesque 200-year old fully restored barn, the 812 acres of Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds are a sportsman's dream.

Speaking of sportsmen and dreams, meet Jasper Copelan, the chief shooting instructor at Sandy Creek and a national champion marksman, his name adorning many of the trophies gleaming atop the facility's gun cabinets. Raised on a dairy farm in nearby Putnam County, the 21-year-old may look like any other small-town Georgia boy, but on the range he displays abilities that rival, and often out-shoot, marksman twice his age.

He discovered shooting at age six, spending his childhood in the woods, hunting alongside his father and quickly displaying skill at finding his mark. In 2009, family friend and Level 2 shooting instructor Dr. Sammy McFaddin convinced nine-year-old Jasper to join him at a local gun club and try competitive shooting. He was hooked.

"We happened to live right across the street from the local gun club," says Copelan. "I would walk over every day after school and shoot until dark."

As his skill and passion grew he devoted himself to the sport, at the cost of other pastimes.

"I loved baseball but came to a point where I had to choose between the two," says Copelan. "I realized that, unlike other sports, shooting could be a year-round and lifelong pursuit. I made my choice and haven't missed a week since."

His specialty is English Sporting, in which clay targets are launched at various speeds, angles, and distances to mimic the flight of live game, and FITASC Sporting, a challenging two-day sporting-clay competition consisting of 200 targets shot in sets of 25. According to Copelan, shooting is as much a mind game as it is a game of skill, and despite more than a decade of experience, he is no stranger to the nerves and excitement of competing.

"At any shoot, I feel that I am shooting against myself, rather than my competitors," says Copelan. "I don't really get nervous in the final rounds, I'm just very focused on finishing strong."

As a member of the Gatewood School's clay target team, he was a three-time Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) All-Around Shotgun State Champion, once also placing third nationally. When he moved up to the National Sporting Clays Association's (NSCA) competitions, he won the Junior US Open in 2017.

This past June he competed at the Georgia State Sporting Clays Championship alongside his brother and fellow Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds Instructor Aaron, age 19.

"My brother is my best friend, and I am so fortunate to shoot with him at tournaments," says Copelan. "He keeps me calm when the pressure is really on, and makes it feel like we are just out practicing."

While Aaron placed third in the Junior Category, Jasper captured the 2020 State Championship, and with it a childhood dream.

"I remember watching the competition when I was little and thinking, 'Hey, maybe I can with that someday.' To actually be out there competing with some of the best shooters around, let alone winning, was an incredible experience."

Jasper has been teaching at Sandy Creek the last three years, watching the one-of-a-kind shooting facility come to life under the leadership of Director Justin jones, a British clay shooting champion. One of the sport's most decorated champions, and former instructor to the Royal Family, jones has taken Copelan under his wing.

"Jasper is an invaluable asset to our team, and to our guests," says Jones. "He is not only a phenomenal shot, but an excellent instructor and an admirable young man."

Copelan has already learned a great deal from Jones, from target setting to the art of teaching. There's no doubt he has a bright future ahead, and no doubt in his mind that he is right where he was meant to be.

"My goal is to continue helping in any way that I can at the Sporting Grounds. I would love to continue to shoot at the highest level that I can to give back to Justin, my team, my family, and many more who have supported me from the very beginning."

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