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Trap shooters gather for major event

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by Joe Potosky, Jul 6, 2007.

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  1. Joe Potosky

    Joe Potosky Well-Known Member

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    Top Gun Aims for Perfection

    Syracuse Online - David Figura

    Trap shooters gather for major event next week in Cicero.

    When veteran trap shooter Cliff Haaf is "in the zone," he doesn't miss.

    "A little luck can't hurt anybody," he said. "But when I'm in the zone everything feels right. I'm focused. After all, it is a game of perfection."

    Haaf, a member of the Pompey Rod and Gun Club, is one of Central New York's premier shooters and has the patches, trophies and championships to prove it. He'll be among the more than 700 shooters next week competing in the 146th annual Empire State trap shooting championships at the homegrounds of the New York State Amateur Trap Association in Cicero.

    Haaf, 58, a self-employed mason contractor from Cazenovia, first started shooting trap in the early 1980s. Back then, he'd only shoot recreationally on Tuesday nights in the Central New York Trap League, firing at 25 clay targets or pigeons once a week.

    In 1994, he said, his brother talked him into shooting competitively.

    "I started shooting 300 to 500 targets a week. I improved dramatically," he said.

    His resume since then includes honors such as the 2000 AA state champion, New York State Central Zone champion (twice), Northeast Grand American AA champion (2003), Southern Grand American AA Champion (2003). He's also been a force in the Central New York Trap Shooting league. With more than 700 shooters, Haaf has been the league champion four times and won the highest average award six times.

    "My average (in outside competitions) runs around (hitting) 98 out of 100 targets," he said. "Depending on the kind of day I'm having, sometimes I'll hit 100, and on other days, 96."

    Haaf shoots a Kreighoff K-80, a 12-gauge shotgun. He bought it about six years ago for $10,000. Today, he figures it would probably sell for about $15,000.

    "Trap guns hold their value, if you take care of them," he said.

    He said he switched from his inexpensive Browning gun, he said, because "all the better shooters seemed to be shooting the upper-end guns.

    "I didn't want to go to my grave saying I could have shot better if I had a better gun," he said. "So now, there's nothing I can blame but me."

    Haaf figures with all his practice and competitions, he spends about $100 to $125 a week on his sport.
    When asked about his accomplishments, Haaf related he's a cancer survivor non-Hodgkins lymphoma (a cancer of the immune system).

    "I had chemotherapy for six months (in 1985)," he said. "It never came back."

    Haaf said the cancer scare didn't change him, but confirmed that his lifestyle choices to that point of his life were the right ones. He said he always tried to achieve the proper balance between work and play.

    "I did things when I was younger hunting trips in Canada, out west . . . playing softball, racquetball," he said. "I'm glad I did those things. I tried to be home by 5 p.m. each day, rather than staying for a few more hours of work."

    His advice for the novice trap shooter?

    "Find a gun that fits," he said, adding a good beginner's gun will run about $500 to $600.

    "And find someone who's successful and get some pointers," he said. "Just take it up and enjoy it. The more targets you see, the better you'll become."

    David Figura can be reached at dfigura@syracuse.com or at 470-6066.
     
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