October 22, 2021

Trap, skeet are right on target

Camaraderie abounds in shooting leagues

Photos by Katie Keyser/contributing photographer

From left, Nathan Hill of Marathon, Mike Bell of Freeville and Eric Smith of McGraw on the trap field May 5, 2019 at the McGraw Sportman’s Club.

McGRAW — Charles Parks said there’s a lot to be found in a trap and skeet league.

“I like the target shooting, the fun and camaraderie of the guys showing up here every week,” said Parks, 45, president of the McGraw Sportsman’s Club. “The other thing that I really like about this is how diverse the group is. There’s people here who are teens on up to 70 plus. This is something that kids can do with parents and grandparents.”

Trap and skeet in the 2019 Portzline League saw 162 shooters May 5 from four gun clubs at the Ridge Road grounds pay $10 a game, including targets and prize money. Shooters represented McGraw, Tompkins County Fish and Game Club, Homer Rod and Gun Club and the Groton Rod and Gun Club.

Membership fee is $25 a year. Youngsters and new people should have a firearms safety course under their belt.

“Some guys only shoot trap. Others do skeet. Others do both,” Parks said. “It’s an all weather sport. Wind’s the biggest factor, more than rain.”

Marksmen line up in five positions. Each is on his own space, and takes a turn, giving the signal to release an orange clay target that they shoot at with a shot gun. Then they rotate to the next position.

At the McGraw club, participants have a microphone at their station. Targets are released by the sound of the voice.

In trap, the targets, orange discs that represent a fowl, are discharged in an arc up in the air away from the shooter. With skeet, a target flies out in one direction and seconds later, a second target flies out in the opposite direction.

People shoot five rounds at all five positions and score a point if they hit a bird. A 25 signifies perfection.

“It’s extremely active all over Central New York,” said Rich Kearney of Cortlandville, a member of the McGraw club.

“Clubs are all over the place.” The play starts at 8 a.m. and goes to 1 p.m. for the Portzline league. Men, and a few women, packed the club house. Pickup trucks lined the driveway. Breakfast was served in a nearby building.

“I am crazy,” said Frank Bozeat of Weedsport, a member of the Homer Gun Club. “We have a guy from Port Byron, Marcellus and Elbridge. We enjoy trap shooting. We travel.”

He’s been shooting trap close to 40 years.

“I am not a good skeet shooter,” he said. “I enjoy it. It’s a good hobby. It’s not all that expensive. There’s more expensive hobbies out there. I have several hobbies. They are more expensive than this one.”

He has a Beretta and a Krieghoff gun he brings with him. People can spend a couple of hundred to to several thousand dollars for their weapons. People use Brownings, Berettas and Remingtons.

“We have a low crime rate here,” Kearney said. “People do recreational shooting. That’s what it is. It’s not easy … The bird comes out 40 mph. Over 40 … You have to get a lead and mark a lead. Charles is one of the best shooters in the club.”

Parks said he is “fair.”

“You need to have pretty good vision,” Parks said. “Focus. That’s kind of it. “You don’t need a lot of skill. The skill will come as you
shoot.”

Parks has been in the league for about eight years.

“I have met a lot of good, good people,” he said. “It can be as competitive as you want it to be. Pretty much everyone here would loan you a gun to try. Give you pointers.”

The McGraw club offers Friday night open practice and on Saturdays and Sundays, people can get groups together to shoot.

“I am doing better every week,” said John Turkow of McGraw, in his first year of shooting in the league and a McGraw club member. He uses a semiautomatic Remington 1187.

“I like Groton,” the 42-year-old said of the club. Play rotates among the clubs. “It’s just different. I like all the clubs. It’s fun that we do change them.”

A trap shooter and hunter, Turkow shoots between 20 to 25 score. He’s learned he has to relax and give it time. The bird comes out really fast.

Nathan Hill, 16, of Marathon is in his first year in the league. He does trap and skeet.

“It’s going good,” he said.

Todd Eibert of Marathon, 42, has been shooting trap since he was 15. This is his second time in the league and he’s a member of the Groton club.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Eibert said. “Lots of good folks, guys to be around, sporting people. They are friendly and outgoing.”

Consistency is needed in trap. It’s all muscle memory, follow through, Eibert said. “Moving the gun, don’t stop when you pull the trigger. Keep going.”

He’s got a Mossberg. He’s shooting skeet as well, a first this year.

Laurie Spada of Brooktondale, in her first year in the league, and Becky Holcomb of Richford, who’s been shooting guns for 28 years, both represent the Tompkins County club.

“I’m better with a bow and arrow,” said Holcomb, a state archery champion. “I try to do it for fun. It does get frustrating when you miss.”

“I’m competitive,” she added. She scores 17 to 21 per round out of 25. “If I shoot less than that, I am bummed out.”