Whenever we hear the words, hall of fame, we instantly realize someone is talking about the best of the best. It is the standard by which we set aside those who have made a difference in a chosen field of endeavor. That standard is alive and well on the weekend of May 25 and 26 at the Marshal County Hunting and Fishing Club.
For the first time in several years, the club will host the West Virginia Amateur Trapshooting Association's annual Hall of Fame Shoot. This event brings sportsman from all over the state to compete in the two-day event. New inductees to the West Virginia Trap Shooting Hall of Fame will be announced Saturday. The competition begins both days at 9 a.m. Contact club ATA Director Larry Lilley at 304-845-8604 or visit the clubs web site at marshallcountyhfc.com for more information about the event.
Trap shooting requires many hours of practice and dedication to the sport that began over 200 years ago. During a competition the shooter must each fire his gun and hit, or "break" clay targets thrown from each of five different shooting stations. Clay targets also commonly referred to as birds or clay pigeons are launched from trap machines in the enclosed station and the shooter must fire and break the bird while in flight to be counted as a dead target. Each event is a total of 100 clay targets. A perfect score is 100 consecutive dead targets.
In years past, the shooter would call "Pull" and a person would release the target. Today the sport has become automated to the point when the shooter calls for the target to be released; his voice activates the automated device and releases the target. The station where the targets are released from is called a "trap". The device uses pistons and solenoids that control the mechanical trap that is designed to throw hundreds of clay targets before needing to be reloaded. Each station can hold a total of 540 targets. This automated devise needs little human intervention during a day of competition.
This years' host club was awarded a $5000 grant from the Amateur Trapshooting Association for the purchase of a new trap machine. The Marshall County Club is a non-profit organization and the financial assistance to purchase the new trap machine at a cost of $8,000 was a welcome addition to the club.
The sport of clay target shooting has developed several different versions of the sport. Trap, Skeet, Sporting, Bunker, International, and 5 Stand are among the different variations. In America, Trap, Skeet, and Sporting remain the most popular. In trap shooting the clay targets are launched from a single machine away from the shooter. To complete a round the shooter must complete five different stations. The sport of skeet shooting is different in the fact that two separate machines launch two targets that often travel intersecting paths in front of the shooter. Finally, there is the competition called, Sporting clay targets. This competition is laid out in a walking course and the targets are launched from different points along the course. The shooter needs to react to a target launch and fire at the clay bird in a split second.
Each of these competitions tests the shooter's skills with quickness to find the target and coordinate their shot to break the fast flying targets. The sport originally began in the 18th century. At that time, live pigeons were used in the competitions. The birds were often released from enclosed traps for the shooter to fire at. The shooter would call out "pull" to the person, who controlled the trapped bird; he would release it for the shooter. Today the term "pull" is still used to release targets.
In the 1860's, the first artificial birds were introduced into the sport. Balls made of glass called "Bogardus" were the first hand made targets used in the sport. Often these targets were made from beautiful colored glass. They were launched from the ground with a spring device. Today these glass balls are highly sought after as rare collectables. A while later targets began being made of hardened clay and replaced the glass targets. Clay targets break down overtime in the outdoors and do not damage the environment.
The legendary Annie Oakley was famous for her skills at shooting targets. Her prowess with a gun has been somewhat forgotten over time. Hollywood movies often portray her as frontier woman who fought outlaws and hostel Indians in the untamed old west. But history reminds us she was world famous for her skill in target shooting in Wild West shows around the country in the late-1800s. Today, trap shooting competitors sometimes participate in a competition called, Annie Oakley. It consists of firing a single shot at a target in each round. If you fail to break the bird and a subsequent shooter breaks it, you are then eliminated. The competitors keep taking turns until only one is left in the competition. Even after 100 years the legendary lady sharp shooter of the old west lends her name to skilled shooting of targets.
The Marshall County Hunting and Fishing Club recently recovered the lead from the soil on the trap range. The recovery operation netted over 110,000 pounds of lead. The club feels it is important to follow EPA guidelines and has in place a Land Remediation Policy. This policy helps to maintain the sport and protect the land for future generations to use.
The WVATA Hall of Fame shoot will bring sportsman from all over the tri-state areas to compete in the two-day event. The Marshall County Hunting and Fishing Club welcomes visitors to come and enjoy the sport on May 25 and 26. The club has been home to sportsmen since the 1940's and sits on 130 acres of land along side Big Grave Creek. It is located approximately 1.3 miles east of Moundsville, on 12th Street. The day of the Hall of Fame shoot there will signs indicating its location. The club prides itself on promoting sportsmanship for its members and is family orientated with over 700 club members. West Virginia has a long history of it citizens enjoying the outdoors. Club completions such as this one promote safe use of guns, sportsmanship and environmental stewardship. It's something they can be proud of, as we look Through the Lens.