"It's About Being a Kid"
at the Delavan Sportsmen's Club in 2000
by: Tom Armbrust
Our youth is a wonderful time in our lives yet it passes us all by rather quickly. Many of us have great memories of our younger days in a rural setting very much enjoying our many and varied outdoor activities. For instance, if you lived on a farm or at least out in the country, there was a pond or creek for fishing, hiking, and exploring plus large open spaces for safely shooting. During the good old summertime we had responsibilities of maybe a paper route, or a grass cutting job or two. Or as I experienced, the many varied chores on the farm such as feeding cows, cleaning the barn, milking cows, and putting up hay. As a reward, dad and I would take a short walk out to a safe area plinking with our 22 rifles. In fact, I still have my Winchester M-6l 22 caliber pump rifle all those years later. We also had a blast shooting clay targets thrown with a hand trap as dad could really "wing em". How excited I used to get when my old l6 GA single barrel H & R Topper would puff a clay target.
In the early l960's in northern Illinois, when I was growing up, hunting or target shooting on private land was not a problem. Upland bird and waterfowl shooting was excellent back then, as much of the surrounding rural farm land was not posted. With a little luck, if I helped a farmer with some of their summer chores on the farm, it was not a problem to plink or target shoot in the summer then hunt in the fall on his land.
Times have changed drastically since then, as now many of the rural areas I enjoyed so much in my boyhood days, the peace and solitude of the open spaces have now vanished, becoming sprawling large communities! This urban sprawl is happening all over our country and it shows no sigh of slowing down, thus making clay target shooting or hunting harder and harder without access to a gun club.
Imagine if you will now what it would be like for a kid growing up in urban America being the least bit interested in the great outdoors. Possibly traveling many miles out into the country to hike, camp, fish, or hunt. That's if your parents have the time for any of these activities or perhaps may not be too thrilled about you handling or learning to use a gun. I don't have to tell our readers all about the anti-gun propaganda in our country bombarding us through the media. Liking to shoot or being around guns is a politically incorrect situation with many people. One of the only hopes we have left is our young people taking an interest in the shooting sports. They are our life's blood to trapshooting of the future. But how do we convey this to our young people in an enjoyable and meaningful way what trapshooting has to offer them? We must convince others that shotguns and clay target games are not a bad thing by educating our young people.
Cost is one problem for the kids if their parents don't also shoot. Yet if a young person shows an interest in shooting, they can first work at a gun club. The club can supply a couple of free rounds of targets in exchange for work done such as cleaning up the club grounds after a shoot. In fact, the Delavan Sports Club charges just a dollar per round to its junior members. Trap guns can be loaned to a new young shooter by other club members. As the cost of a new or good used trap gun is expensive when you are first getting into the sport. Shot shell target loads can be reloaded for about half the price of new ammunition if enough shooters pitch in and buy a volume of reloading components through their gun club. This will help the young shooter with their lack of funds.
Another big help in the right direction for the young novice shooter is instruction in proper gun handling and safety. Much can be learned from the experience and help of a seasoned shooter. Kids at our club really look up to the hot shots as many of these people put in much time and effort with their talents in the training of the up and coming young shooter. Another big plus is the selection of youth guns available with reduced length barrels and butt stocks for the smaller size children who are new to the sport. These youth models are available in .4l0 bore and 20 GA but don't make the mistake of selecting the .4l0 due to its much reduced recoil. It has many fewer effective pellets in the shot pattern for clay bird shooting or worse yet hunting. The .4l0 is for the expert shot gunner not the kid just starting. Ammunition is also more expensive vs. l2 GA or 20 GA shot shells. I would give the nod to the 20 GA for a first time shotgun either in a single barrel or pump shotgun.
In southern Wisconsin, nestled in a picturesque rural country setting, is the Delavan Sportsman's Club founded in l949. This is a very active trap and skeet club with a membership of around 700 shooters. Their layout consists of four trap fields, two skeet fields, a 25-yard, 50-yard, and l00-yard pistol and rifle range, plus an archery range. Various informal and registered trap shoots are held at the club each season.
I for one had a special interest in the upcoming Delavan Sportsmen's Club 3 day shoot running May 5-7. On Friday, May 5th, was the Delevan doubles shoot. One thousand targets, shooting as many as you wish. On Saturday, May 6th, was the belt buckle shoot. On Sunday, May 7th, the big day I was looking forward to, was the five man Wisconsin state team trophy shoot. As the five kids shooting on the Elkhorn collision team were chomping at the bit. These kids were so excited as I told them I was going to cover their team shooting event in Trap and Field.
Here is a little background information on each member of the five young man's team shoot. Vinnie Ghiselli, age 9, is dynamite in a very small package. This little fellow has been shooting under his dad's hard work and supervision for a year and a half. Vinnie shoots a H & R single barrel 20 GA with a 26-inch modified choke barrel. His "Little Perazzi", as he calls it, has had the forcing cone lengthened and the barrel ported for reduced recoil for this pint sized shooter. Vinnie's favorite shells are Remington's 20 GA STS Premier, 7/8 oz of hard 8 loads. I have been spending a little time with Vinnie on the skeet field also, as I was amazed at how well he hit skeet targets with his little 20-bore, scoring l8 x 25 on his second round! Vinnie broke a 64 X l00 in his team shoot. He was very excited as his previous day's score was a 57 X l00 as he is striving to improve his shooting.
Vinnie's older brother, Billy Ghiselli is l3 years old and has also been shooting for a year and a half. Billy shoots a Browning BT-99 with the barrel shortened to 28" and a Briley choke tube installation modified by R & P gunsmiths. The stock has also been reduced for a proper fit. Bill's favorite ammo is Federals Gold Medal target load Lite 8's. Billy broke a 90 X l00 doing his part on the five man team. His best score to date. I very much enjoy seeing the brotherhood competition between older brother Billy and little brother Vinnie. If these two young fellows stick with trapshooting, there's no telling what these boys can do down the road.
Bill Ghiselli, the boy's father, is also an avid trap shooter spending much time with his two boys and giving them shooting instructions and pointers on clay target shooting. Bill also donates much of his free time to the Delavan Sportmen's Club. Bill, his wife Debbie, and the two boys attend many shoots together as a family unit very much enjoying the shooting sports. Debbie told me the boys get very upset when one of their school buddies or the news media says guns are bad. They just do not understand how much enjoyment we get out of watching our two boys compete in trap shooting events, as the kid's enthusiasm is contagious. She commented, "Is it any different than watching your kids play soccer or baseball like so many parents do?" Bill very much reminds me of my father as he is very close to his two boys. He took Bill Junior on an elk hunt last fall to Colorado and Bill downed his first elk with just one shot from his 30-06 at 275 yards. He was only l3 years old, what a thrill the two of them will remember that wonderful trip the rest of their lives!
Jeremy Bye is l4 year's old, trap shooting for the last three years. He shoots a M-l2 Winchester with a full choke barrel. His favorite target load is the Winchester AA shells. Jeremy was top shooter on his five man squad smashing 9l X l00 clay targets.
Justen Fritz is l5 years old, shooting clay targets for the last six months. His shotgun is a l2 GA Remington 870 with a 30-inch modified choked barrel. Shooting Federal Gold Medal 2-3/4 - l-l/8 oz 8 loads. Justin scored a 77 X l00 in the five man team shoot. Together the Delavan five man juniors team placed third in the state of Wisconsin breaking 4l3 X 500 clay targets. Their elder trap shooting five man team placed third smoking 490 X 500 clays. The team members were Dale Titus, breaking 99 X l00. Mark Kennedy had a 99 X l00 and Don Vandebogart had a 98 X l00. Good shooting fellows.
Ricky Larsen posted a 99 X l00 to win the Class C Junior Division in the belt buckle shoot. He is really getting into the swing of things smashing clay targets with his Remington 90-T trap gun. His favorite target loads are Winchester AA 2-3/4 - l-l/8 oz 7-l/2 shells. His six years of clay target shooting experiences are now really starting to come together. Ricky's father, Rick is also an active trap shooter and his sister, Nikki has pulled targets and kept score at the nearby Darien Trap Club run by Dave and Mary Ennis for the last couple of years. They attend many trap shoots as a family enjoying their time spent together.
John Pilotte, Class D champ, won after a three way shoot off in the l6 yard event, scoring 96 X l00 in the belt buckle shoot. His first trophy of any kind. He has been shooting from a wheel chair after a snowmobile accident. John's wife said trapshooting has really very much turned his life around after his terrible accident as he was really down. Now he looks forward to his next trapshooting event.
Other people that deserve a mention regarding their efforts spent organizing club shoots at the Delavan Sportsmen's Club are club president Dennis Jacobs and Mike Aaronson treasurer.
Larry and Nancy Aasen have many fond memories of their daughter Laura's trap shooting achievements. He told me that as the years pass by, you forget many of the shooting scores and trophies won in the past. But just the other day Larry was moving some of her various belt buckles, plaques, trophies, etc. and certain shooting events stood out very clear in my mind. I have no regrets spending so much time with my daughter when she was young at trap shoots in many parts of the country. Laura started shooting when she was nine years old. Larry states, "Trap shooting is usually not a team sport, meaning it's just you, your shotgun, and the clay target. A lot of practice hard work and concentration go into the development of good shooting skills. You have to have your head screwed on straight and your mind totally focused on each and every target to break really good scores. A kid could do a lot worse than trap shooting like getting involved in drinking or drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd." Their proudest moment was when Laura, a junior at Purdue, broke all 200 clay targets to become the first female collegiate trap shooter to finish with a perfect score in l6 yard singles at the Grand American in l993. The Boilermakers, who hit a collegiate record shattering 978 X l000 targets, won their ninth straight national title in their division. Larry was driving a tractor pulling a wagon load of clay targets down the line when his daughter Laura broke her final 200 straight target. She was so excited yelling at dad and waving at him trying to get his attention. With all the tractor noise and excitement, he didn't even realize she had run a perfect score. What a thrill for both of them, as all their hard work had paid off!
Also thanks much to Mike Larsen at Federal Cartridge and Mike Jordan at Winchester for supplying their excellent Federal Gold Medal and Winchester AA target loads for the kids five man team shoot.
In the future, my hope is that more and more clay target clubs throughout our country will follow the example of the Delavan Sportsmen's Club, devoting special time training our young people in the safe and proper usage of shotguns in the pursuit of clay target shooting games. For well over 200 hundred years our great country has enjoyed a shooting heritage and now it is more important than ever that our young people realize that shotguns and clay target shooting can be a very enjoyable pastime--contrary to the rising anti gun sentiment in our country. Many thanks to the Delavan Sportsmen's Club and its various members who actively support the young shooters in the shooting sports. If the people who think the shooting sports and guns are bad, could somehow witness the great times shared by family members and friends busting a few clays at a local trap shooting club. Then our kids may just have a chance yet to carry on the American tradition of shooting by responsible young people! Just maybe some non-shooters could be convinced that clay target shooting is a great sport, seeing it bring much enjoyment to young and older folks alike watching the enthusiasm on the faces of all the competitors.