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I wonder sometime who helped others along in their first few years? I know two who helped me a lot in the Game. I didn't realize how lucky I was at the time but ,I had the privilege of being Coached by one of the games Legends and All time GREATS. Rudy Etchen helped both my wife and I a great deal , and I gained a lot of incite from his wealth of Knowledge. By the time I met him in 1979 ,he had probably forgotten more about shooting than most will "ever" know. He wasn't about fancy tactics and theories, just straight forward helpful knowledge, and this he had learned in his many years of Championship shooting , Knowledge that he was willing to pass on to others. He helped hundreds ( if not thousands ) of shooters, and I often wonder how much that gentleman could have made if he had charged for his expertise but ,as far as I know he never got a dime for it and all his interviews in which he shared his knowledge , were given for free. --Another one I remember was dean DeBow. I met Dean when we were shooting in Western KY when we starting out in the game and had only been shooting a few years. At the time Dean was on top of his game and winning plenty in the sport . Dean took some time with me and I know he didn't have to but,he was more than willing to help others I also know he did that with a lot more people. Today he is still helping young people in the game. Not surprised because that is just how he is. Once again I don't think he ever made a dime for all his effort and time!
 

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Tom Joerdnt owned the Winchester Trap&Skeet Club with his brother Warren in Franksville, WI. They both helped me a lot to get started.
 

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Vic Reinders was my primary mentor and coach. I loved listening to Vic tell stories of past trap shoots with old timers that I read about as they entered the HOF. Even though I frustrated Vic to know end he finally realized I just did not have the basic skill set needed to shoot at a championship level. I enjoyed shooting with Vic and getting to meet the greats in the sport when we went to the Grand in Ohio.

Another man that really helped me was Sydney Jesse James. He worked and shot for Schlitz at the old Milwaukee gun club. He gave me my first 870 TB which I still own today.

Both men are now gone and hopefully they pulled a squad for me to shoot with them when I arrive. I owe a big debt of gratitude to each of them.
Steve Balistreri
Wauwatosa Wisconsin
 

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Several people have given me great advice not only in shooting but life in general. The absolute best coaching and advice came from my Hero, best friend, business partner, hunting buddy, and life coach. Most people called him Big John I had the privilege of calling him Dad.
 

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Sad to say I didn't have a mentor and made plenty of mistakes along the way. From guns to glasses I've pretty much figured it out on my own. That's not to say the porch pros never helped, just not on a consistent basis.

I got a few dings along the way, one person allegedly "helping" me dubbed me a "head case" and walked away a half box in to watching me shoot.
 

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I'd like to be able to rattle off a list of big names of who helped me when I was young, but I don't have one. The only one most of you'd know is Pat Laib, and that wasn't with shooting, but just fielding a thousand dumb questions from a budding young gunsmith in between shooting. The person who helped my Trap shooting most when I was younger was Bob Gross, "Boss", who ran Castle Greens Trap Club, and was my shooting coach. My Dad's best friend, Rich Lind, who taught me the basics of wingshooting, would be the next most influential, then my dad would be third. My best friend back then, Hayden Clark, helped me a lot but he'd also deliberately mess with my head during meat shoots and Oakleys :mad:
 

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I wonder sometime who helped others along in their first few years? I know two who helped me a lot in the Game. I didn't realize how lucky I was at the time but ,I had the privilege of being Coached by one of the games Legends and All time GREATS. Rudy Etchen helped both my wife and I a great deal , and I gained a lot of incite from his wealth of Knowledge. By the time I met him in 1979 ,he had probably forgotten more about shooting than most will "ever" know. He wasn't about fancy tactics and theories, just straight forward helpful knowledge, and this he had learned in his many years of Championship shooting , Knowledge that he was willing to pass on to others. He helped hundreds ( if not thousands ) of shooters, and I often wonder how much that gentleman could have made if he had charged for his expertise but ,as far as I know he never got a dime for it and all his interviews in which he shared his knowledge , were given for free. --Another one I remember was dean DeBow. I met Dean when we were shooting in Western KY when we starting out in the game and had only been shooting a few years. At the time Dean was on top of his game and winning plenty in the sport . Dean took some time with me and I know he didn't have to but,he was more than willing to help others I also know he did that with a lot more people. Today he is still helping young people in the game. Not surprised because that is just how he is. Once again I don't think he ever made a dime for all his effort and time!
My brother-in-law, god bless him for being patient. He gifted me my first gun for my 12th birthday, a J.C. Higgins 12 ga. bolt action, which I still have 64 years later.
 

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Wasn't raised with firearms, so thanks to my wife's family for introducing me to shooting and hunting. When I found our range, one of the senior members would criticize my shooting... not critique, but criticize... it was his way...

However, he was also the guy who told me to get rid of the box holder, throw in an extra handful of shells and stop counting... Don Hiltz
 

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A friend of my family took me underwing at a very early time in my life. He would take me out to his farm where he took me hunting and fishing. I'm sure he noticed my passion for not only hunting and fishing but shooting in general.

He was a trapshooter. To sharpen my ability for hunting, he would toss hand thrown Clay's. Recognizing not only my passion but potential, he installed a trap by his house. Mentoring me along the way and telling the locals that he was about to unleash a young talent that was going to be all they could handle.

My first shoot was a traveling league. I as seven years old. Shot a practice round before being classified where I broke my first 25 straight. It caused quite a stir with the directors of where to place me per class. They put me in B class at seven which caused quite a few of the shooters that knew my mentor and family to be very upset and they let those directors no about it.LOL Anyway, I went on to tie for B class with a 48, pair of 24's shooting the handicap from 22yds.

Guess they believed my mentor after that performance.LOL

We shot mostly Sunday afternoon turkey shoots other than the league which was once a month. By 9yrs old I could compete against anyone in attendance anywhere in the parking lot and have a good chance of beating them.

I could not have asked for a better mentor/instructor/friend than I had growing up.

As I got older I was also fortunate to shoot with and become friends with Leo, Kiner, Hoppe, Bailey and many others. We discussed many things shooting.
 

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I didn't start until I was in my late 20's but a few of the older members gave me some advice but most knew to leave me alone unless I asked for help or was seen to be doing something really dumb. I did ok.
 

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At our local gun club there was a man by the name of Ed Meridith. Was not a "pro" or well known but I never saw him miss a target. He was pretty old when I met him but he took me under his wing and taught me alot about trapshooting. One other fellow was my best friend as I got older, HJ Berken. They have both been gone for awhile now but not forgotten.
 

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I didn't start shooting trap until 2012 and took advice from many local shooters. Some of it good, some of it bad. However, TS.com's own "Wadcrusher" helped me with foot position and Don Barker, owner of Fulton County Gun Club, helped me with doubles. Thanks guy's.
 

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I did not start until I was in my late 40's. Bill Parson, Jr has been very instrumental in shooting ATA trap. Harlan Campbell has helped tremendously too. Tim Hall
 

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My Dad got me started, my Mom would coach me on fundamentals, a stock maker friend Max Weller would give me encouraging words (and a Model 12 stock that fit that I still shoot). Then along the way some words of wisdom from Buford Bailey, the old trashman Howard Bacon always had something to say. I enjoyed every minute of it. Fast forward 40 years and I try and help any youngster that asks, a spare box of shells or a few pointers what ever they need.
 

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I grew up poor and my parents could only afford to buy me a few boxes of shells to hunt with each year. You definitely had to make each shot count.

As far as trap shooting goes, my son loves shooting guns with me and we were told he needed to shoot on a trap team. I always wanted to do it and he liked the idea, so by gosh I work lots of overtime hours to afford for him to do it. I don't get to shoot but on a rare occasion. He asks why I don't and I tell him when he gets out on his own and buys his own stuff, then I will start shooting regularly.

His lady coach has taught me a lot about the game. I have also learned a lot about it through you guys too.
 

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Hunting pheasants was a pretty big deal on the area where I grew up. My dad and uncle never missed an opening day in the '60s. By the time I was ten I had a nice 22 and was out walking the woods and fields at every opportunity. My dad was a stickler regarding gun safety and proper technique and it has stuck with me. Sadly he was gone by the time I was 17.

Bill
 
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