The light rain and overcast sky did not seem to be noticed by any of the competitors at the Fort Bragg Morale Welfare and Recreation Clay Target Center, Oct. 19.
The competition had three separate events each consisting of 25 targets per round. The three events were singles, handicap and doubles.
“The difference in the events are simple. Singles are shot from the 16 yard line, handicap can be shot from the 20 yard line to the 27 yard line depending on the average number of targets broken during the singles event. And doubles is where two targets are launched at the same time and the shooter has to shoot both targets in one turn,” said Marty Hill, trifecta event planner.
The competitors were divided into groups of five and the teams were selected at random.
“Some of the people shooting today are the best in the state,” said Damon Roberts, business manager, FMWR Clay Target Center. “We have six or seven events like this from spring through fall.”
The competition attracted competitors from all over North Carolina each with varying skill levels.
“I come to all of the competitions I can (and) this facility is close to home,” said Brian West, a competition trap shooter for over a year.
During the shooting, the haze caused by the sun seemed to affect the shooters when the clay target transitioned from the tree line to the sky.
“I was having trouble seeing the target when it got up high. You either wanted to shoot it when it first came out or you would want to wait until it came back down, level with the trees so it had a darker back drop,” said West.
Even with the poor weather that morning and the early afternoon, it was a very close competition with some shooters being just a few points apart.
“Not everyone shoots the doubles event. It is expensive since you have to shoot twice the number of shells and you have to have a gun that can shoot two shells without reloading,” said Hill.
“Not very many facilities’ will allow shooters to practice doubles,” added Hill. “It is very time consuming to switch the machines over to fire doubles. This is also why it is the last event in the competition.”
Fort Bragg and Fort Stewart, Ga. are the largest facilities on the East Coast.
“We have one of the nicest facilities on the East Coast. We have 12 competition-level skeet fields, six competition level trap fields, a voice release system for trap ranges so the shooter just has to talk into a microphone to release their target, and lighted ranges extending our hours after night fall,” said Roberts.
There were only seven competitors who completed all three events.
The trifecta winner was Karole Miller, the only female contestant at the competition.
“Karole and her husband are good trap shooters. They shoot almost every weekend,” said Hill.
“Clay shooting is a lot of fun, whether you’re hitting all of your targets or none, but you won’t know unless you give it a try,” said West.