The hills were alive, not with the sound of music, but the blasts of shotguns. Back and forth around me scurried youngsters of various sizes, each packing a shotgun.
What did I expect? After all, I was at the state scholastic sporting clays shoot at Roy Sisler’s Hunting Hills near Dillner in Greene County.
Young shooters ranging from sixth grade through college came to compete as in both individual and team events. The winners would move on to a national championship shoot.
I first found out about this shoot from Chris Dugan, an avid bird hunter. Incidentally, Catlyn Dugan did well, breaking 50 birds in the rookie division. Catlyn shot for the Hunting Hills Rookie 2 team, placing third. While I hate to admit it, many of these youngsters could outshoot me and most of my buddies.
There are probably a few readers who haven’t seen a sporting clays match. It can best be described as a golf match using shotguns and clay birds instead of clubs and balls. A full shoot involves 100 birds and a variety of stations where they are shot. Each station presents the clay bird at a different angle, even sending targets bouncing along the ground. Two birds, or doubles, are not uncommon.
While John Dino and I sat on the bench resting, we watched as Robby Dillon of Adah broke fast moving clays. He was young and the shotgun appeared to be bigger than him. Shooting in a rookie class, he did manage to break 36 birds. Watch out when he gets big enough to really handle that over and under. His nickname is Dead Eye.
It’s impossible to mention all 210 participants, but many locals will recognize the name Allen Heldreth, who works at the Gun Library at Cabela’s. Tim Heldreth broke 74 birds and Tom broke 61. Not bad for teenagers.
I hadn’t seen Dave Price for a long time and John and I enjoyed Price and his wife’s company at the lunch table. Two of Dave’s children shot that day, with Hanna breaking 58 and Dave Jr. breaking 69. I couldn’t resist bringing up a gun deal we made almost 20 years ago.
After the shoot, Sisler’s wife, Sally, made sure everyone was well fed. If anyone went home hungry, it was their fault, not the fault of the Hunting Hills staff. The shooting for record was over, and I reflected on what John and I had just witnessed.
First, I saw and talked to a bunch of youngsters who were athletes, yet didn’t play football or basketball. Believe me, they are athletes. It takes dedication and good hand-eye coordination to successfully shoot sporting clays. During the course of the day, I saw no safety problems from any of the young shooters.
Much of the credit for that goes to the adults who work with these young shooters, be they coach or parent. I had absolutely no worries while around this high number of teens carrying guns.
We also talked to parents who are proud of their son or daughter taking part in a competitive activity instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer.
Remember, the parents have invested in a gun for their child and those scatterguns don’t come cheap.
Sisler should also be thanked for the extra work he put in for this shoot. I know this is his business, but he went overboard to assure that the young shooters had fun and still competed safely.
The top shooter of the day was a college student, Nicholas Clarke, who broke 90 birds, and my friend Bobby Rogers, son of Kyle Grehyhek, who broke 78.
Me? I had the good fortune to see young shooters competing and having a good time.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.