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DAN BONILLAS the legend and the man

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Scott Johnson, Oct 11, 2012.

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  1. Scott Johnson

    Scott Johnson Active Member

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    Since I arrived on the trap scene not that long ago (2008), I missed out on some of the colorful days of trap shooting, the 60's-70's-80's, but to hear you guys talk about the way things were and the colorful characters and great shooters, I love to hear the stories. Does anyone have some stories of his accomplishments and the personality of Dan Bonillas? Stories like shoot offs, large events or even the small things. Remember he shot when it was pullers, 3 hole trap, guns didn't have all the adjustment, wads and shells were not as good as now. I read where in 1997 he shot 10,300 doubles and averaged 99.22, wow, that is impressive. Anyone have some stories? Please be respectful. Scott

    Here is a comment from Robert Long, which started me thinking about this thread.
    I had a guy that lived down the road from me that had a trap field in his backyard, I used to love watching him and his friends shoot. I later learned that he was a big time shooter. This was about 1977. I later worked shoots that he ran at our local range. I knew I was going to do this one day. Later in life as I began shooting registered trap I got to shoot against him. I hunted his duck lease a few times to boot. Dan Bonillas was and is one of the greatest guys I ever knew.
  2. Hauser

    Hauser Member

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    I shot the 1975 Grand with Britt Robinson, John Hall, Bob Oxen, and Dan Bonillas.


    Dan set a new High Over All record (984) 6 targets ahead of Steve Carmichael, won the Ohio handicap (98) in a shoot-off with 3 others, while Britt won the Doubles Championship with the lone 100. Dan had a 99 in that event as well as the Doubles Class Championship.


    Jerry Hauser
  3. Vince morrow

    Vince morrow TS Member

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    Two things about him..... He is the most HUMBLE trapshooter I have met, period. And he'll help you with anything, EVEN if your getting ready to shoot-off against him. Oh yeah, he's got one helluva Dove marinade too!! Damned good.
  4. Scott Johnson

    Scott Johnson Active Member

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    Jerry, were you on the squad with those guys? Was Britt wearing his cowboy boots? Scott
  5. Pocatello

    Pocatello TS Member

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    I was at the Grand one year in the early '80s, and stopped to watch Dan shooting singles. It was probably the Clay Target Championship, but may have been the Class Championship. Anyway I saw him drop one. It turned out to be the only singles target he dropped at that year's Grand.

    I moved to Idaho in the summer of '84, and attended a small ATA shoot at the Skyline club near Idaho Falls. I was very surprised to see Dan there shooting.
  6. Two Dogs

    Two Dogs Active Member

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    I can remember back in the early 80's when I first started shooting, I was at the Grand standing right behind Dan Bonillas as he was in a shoot-off at the 27 yd. line.
    As he shot each target he ejected the shell right into my hand.His shells were Federal Gold Metal light 7 1/2.
    He was smoking those targets better than most shooters do at 16 yd.
    I can't remember if he won that night, as I didn't see the next round.Dan was always a great guy that wanted me to shoot a P gun, but Beretta had got to me first and treated me well.I don't see Dan as much anymore as he doesn't come east much, and I don't go west much anymore....again...Great Man....
  7. Scott Johnson

    Scott Johnson Active Member

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    Vince, thank you, thats the kind of thing I was looking for, the way he competed tells a lot. Nice to hear. Scott
  8. W.P.T.

    W.P.T. TS Member

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    Be careful when you shoot against him, he carries Magic Rocks that were given to him at a shoot in Las Vegas ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
  9. bobski

    bobski Active Member

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    when i was a beginner, dan taught me some pointers one on one at a very small shoot in the central san joaquin valley of ca.. i didnt even know who he was. name didnt ring a bell until years later. man i was floored how normal he was. he was shooting trap with 410 when i first saw him.
  10. Chango2

    Chango2 Active Member

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    I know a guy who beat him for the State Handicap Shootoff in California, 1975. Highlight of that guy's trap shooting career.

    But here is the colorful part: Both Dan and my friend, Keith, shot on the same field at the same time. Keith was at the 20, Dan at the 27. Late in the day. Keith still remembers the shootoff as if it were yesterday. Dan had and still has that much charisma and respect.

    Imagine, also, how it was "yesteryear": Two shooters, same field, one the 20, one at the 27. Can you say: "trust"????
  11. Dickgshot

    Dickgshot Active Member

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    In 1997 when he set the doubles record average over 10,300 targets, Steve
    Carmichael set up a 800 target doubles marathon at the Las Vegas Gun Club, open for everyone, but primarily to help Dan get the additional targets. I didn't shoot, but watched him shoot for about an hour. I don't how many targets he and his squad shot, but he never even chipped a target. The thing I noticed is that
    he was never rushed. He held a high gun and didn't shoot the first target
    particularly fast, but his move to the second target was so smooth that the target never got away from him.

    I saw him shoot handicap and doubles many times, and it seemed that he shot
    only as fast as he needed to. There were great doubles shooters like Carmichael,
    Gravestock, and Robinson that shot very fast, but it seemed that the targets
    just slowed down for Bonillas.

    Does anybody remember that he used to call for the targets with the gun off his
    face like a sporting clays shooter? That was in the 70's. When I saw him shoot
    in the late 90's he wasn't doing that anymore.
  12. topgunoh

    topgunoh Member

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    Have you ever seen him shoot doubles? Amazing!!

    My daughter was working the Grand in 1996 or 97 don't remeber for sure, but there was a breeze from the north and he was breaking the first target so close to the house that dust and small pieces were blowing into the trap house into the setters eyes. They asked him to shoot the first target a little slower, and he did. Still smoking them both, he shot the second target about where I shoot the first one, utterly amazing.

    Dave
  13. perazziuser

    perazziuser Member

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    At a September Vegas shoot I was tickled to shoot 99 after missing my second target out in one of the HDCPs. Bonillas, three other 27s and I shot off for high gun. I would normally take my 25, 24 s/o to the house and call it good most days. Bonillas beat me....

    Jeff Holguin
  14. BrokeTrapDad

    BrokeTrapDad Member

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    Great stories guys keep them coming I am enjoying these very much! We shoot in the central valley CA and we see him quite often at local shoots most every weekend we shoot it seems. And he is very nice guy and very helpful and supports the kids shooting I must admit Im a little partial to my sons coach Ron A. so I dont want to say Dan is the best but he is certainly in the conversation. GReat thread keep it going
  15. Jawhawker

    Jawhawker TS Member

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    Years ago (story will tell year) we were all at the beer tent at the grand. Dan walks in and someone asked how he shot. 196 was answer. Well he started getting stacked on and in rebuttle stated " I don't give a d?? about singles, I'll break the 100 tomorrow (prelim handicap) and we'll see who's laughing. He won the handicap the following day with a loner.
  16. Scott Johnson

    Scott Johnson Active Member

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    I have a friend from Montana that is very knowledgeable in traps colorful past and he knows a lot of top All-Americans, past and present, he told me what other shooters at the time said about Dan and I quote:

    “When Dan Bonillas came on the scene, it was like something no one had ever seen. Some of the top All-Americans have commented that Dan Bonillas was the one that changed the game. Everyone had to get better to compete, they had to re-invent themselves.”
    Scott
  17. semperfi909

    semperfi909 Well-Known Member

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    Mr. Bonillas was at the first pigeon shoot I went to. The most deliberate flyer shooter I've seen. Don't recall him missing any that day either.
  18. motordoctor

    motordoctor Me and my new wiife Staff Member

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    i was at a shoot at the old bob taylor ranch in vegas and dan won 2 cars that weekend. not sure how he drove both home. motordoc
  19. Lyle

    Lyle Member

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    I was lucky enough to shoot a 200 the opening day of the Grand in Vandalia one year and shoot off under the lights. My second round of the shoot off I was squaded with a couple of guys that you may have heard of (Campbell, Stacy) and Dan Bonillas. Dan said to me as we took the line, "boy, am I nervous!".....I laughed and....missed! :)

    I have since been at a few featherd functions that I have seen him at and would second the comment on the Dove Marinade. Best I've ever eaten!

    Lyle
  20. senior smoke

    senior smoke Well-Known Member

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    I started trapshooting in the 70's and Dan was the top gun at that time. All I can say is that he was more popular in trapshooting circles than most stars in the game of baseball.

    One year, I worked an extra part time job just to afford to go the grand American in Ohio. We left at 12 midnight after my wife got out of work, along with our 2 children in their pajamas sleeping in the car.

    We finally pulled in around 8am and spent most of the day hoping that I would meet Dan. After shooting, it hit me that the place was so big that my chances of seeing and meeting him was slim to none.

    That first night a friend of mine by the name of Don Mainland of Kolar arms saw me and asked if I would like to meet a friend of his who was a fairly good shooter?

    I told Don that I was so tired, but sure I would like to meet him. Sitting in a lawn chair by Don was no other than Dan Bonillas himself. I shook his hand, and asked for his autograph.

    I have met some of the greatest athletes in sport, but no autograph means more to me than his. To me, He will always be the Babe Ruth of trapshooting.
    Steve Balistreri
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