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Trap circles turn competitors into friends

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Joe Potosky, Apr 30, 2007.

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  1. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Trap circles turn competitors into friends

    By Scott Richardson - Pantagraph Publishing

    BLOOMINGTON -- Rick Epley gets a bang out of life times two. Epley, 51, of Bloomington, is the Illinois state doubles champion for the Illinois State Trapshooters Association.

    To accomplish that feat, he used a 12-gauge shotgun to break clay targets just 4 1/2 inches in diameter as they whizzed through the air two at a time at more than 40 mph. On average, he hit 94 out of every 100.

    Trap shooting competitions also include another event where competitors shoot at single targets at 16 yards. In a third test of skill called "handicap," shooters keep moving steadily back from the 16-yard starting point to a maximum of 27 yards as their scores improve.

    Epley, a former tournament fisherman and past president of the Bloomington Normal Bass Club, started shooting trap 10 years ago when his father-in-law, longtime trap shooter Bob Allen of Bloomington, installed a range on his farm.

    "That got me going. It's just one of those things that got in my blood. I'd rather do that than anything," said Epley, a salesman for Springfield Electric in Bloomington.

    His wife, Sue, is one of the few in her family who doesn't shoot. But she likes to attend shooting competitions with him.

    "She critiques me quite a bit, and I mean critiques," Epley said, laughing.

    About 10 percent of the competitive trap shooters in the Amateur Trapshooters Association of America are women. The National Shooting Sports Foundation says female participation in target shooting sports involving shotguns increased 16 percent from 2001 to 2005. Barb Hermes, 56, of Towanda hadn't fired a gun until 1993 when her husband, Pat, took up the sport.

    Today, she is captain of the women's division of the ISTA state team comprised of the five best women trap shooters in the state. This is Hermes first year as captain. In other years, she's been on the state team with close friend Linda Weihmeir of Minier, a member of the ISTA Hall of Fame.

    "The women who shoot are good, they are just very good," Hermes said.

    Several other area trap shooters have earned recognition at the state and national levels, including champion trap shooter Dave Dressler of El Paso.

    Trap shooting is a battle of the sexes, in part. It's one of a handful of sports where women are on even ground with their male counterparts, Hermes said.

    "It's exciting to go out with a squad of all men and run 100 (targets). They congratulate you. It's nice. It's part of the fun," she said. "I like that you count on yourself, that you are totally concentrated to break the target."

    Getting started is simple.

    Hermes suggests a single-barrel 12-gauge shotgun until muscles strengthen enough to make the side-to-side movements needed to lead a target while your head rests on the gun. Over-under shotguns with two barrels one over the other weigh more, so they can be harder for beginners.

    She started with a Remington 1100 semi-automatic that sells for about $600. Epley started with a single-barrel pump action that sells for about $400. More experienced shooters can spend several thousand dollars for a gun. Ear and eye protection are needed.

    Getting good is all about practice. Hermes and Epley spend Wednesday nights at the LeRoy Sportsman's Club. Many ranges have leagues.

    "But if you don't want to join a league, just come shoot for the evening. If you don't know how, we will show you how," said Hermes, who went a step farther when she was learning. She traveled to Peoria to attend a clinic taught by Kay Ohye, a top trap shooter from Hawaii with a national reputation.

    Other top instructors are Harlan Campbell Jr. from Kansas and Leo Harrison III from Missouri, she said. A three-day clinic might cost about $350 plus the price of your targets. You can opt for group or one-on-one instruction.

    Both Hermes and Epley described trap circles as being close-knit. Competitors become friends and meet at events both out of state and in Illinois, which is vying for a prominent place in shooting sports. The Amateur Trapshooting Association of America moved its Grand National event to the state-owned World Shooting and Recreational Complex that opened last year at Sparta.

    The Illinois Department of Natural Resources manages the facility that features 120 trap fields stretching 3.5 miles. The U.S. Open Trap Shooting Championships was the first trapshooting event ever held at the WSRC in July 2006. The event returns there May 10-13. About 1,500 shooters are expected to compete in 10 different events for more than $15,000 in prizes and cash over four days.

    "I love Sparta. It's like a whole city of trap shooters," Hermes said. "We have a fifth wheel. We camp and have potlucks. It's a joy when you go to trap shoots. You see so many nice people. You're glad to see them."

    "It's the people you meet," agreed Epley. "All these shoots become like a big family event."
  2. recurvyarcher

    recurvyarcher Well-Known Member

    Apr 26, 2006
    Couldn't agree with this article more! Thanks for posting it.
  3. Roger IL

    Roger IL TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Good post Joe, Thanks..................Roger
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