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Local shooters on target, win state championship

Medford's Frank Kinney says he's been competitively and recreationally firing shotguns at targets and birds for more than 30 years.

Until Sunday, he says he's had virtually nothing to show for his efforts in terms of competitive success, other than enjoying the fun of the sport.

I like going out there and yelling, `pull' when it's time for the target to fly, says Kinney. It's a great feeling.

I like it so much, I have to remind myself not to yell `pull' when I'm out hunting real birds, he said, laughing. I usually remember not to do that.

Kinney combined with four other shooters for the Medford Gun Club team to win the Oregon State Trapshooting Association team championship Sunday at Medford Gun Club.

Kinney's team -- also made up of Wayne Fields of Eagle Point, Pam Sieg of Jacksonville, Gary Granger of Medford and Don Young of Central Point -- won the team title by knocking down 957 of 1,000 birds (small, spherical-shaped orange clay targets) that explode upon impact with live ammunition.

Shooters stand 16 yards from the trap house that releases the birds into the air. When the word pull rings out of the mouth of the shooter, the bird flies out of the house and into the air approximately 12 feet high.

Shotguns used in individual and team competition are generally 12-gauge. There were a total of nine registered events held in the four-day state competition that ended Sunday, including individual competition while shooting from the 16-yard line, handicap shooting (from 18 to 27 yards out) and doubles (when two birds come out of the trap house at the same time).

(Winning) feels great because I've never really won anything before, says Kinney. I didn't do much individually today, but our team was on. That's the main thing. We had two good days as a team.

It's real nice to win a state championship at our home club in front of our friends and other members.

The state championship meets rotate between Cottage Grove-Eugene, Salem, Medford and Hillsboro each year.

Medford Gun Club has been one of the alternating host clubs since it opened in 1948.

Chuck Skeeters of Central Point, who finished second overall in the Class AA individual competition Sunday with 198 out of 200, says he learned to shoot with his father (Dick) and grandfather (Charlie) at Medford Gun Club.

My dad was a shooter out here, and he would bring me out, says Chuck. I always thought it was fun. We would come out with my grandfather and shoot a lot.

I loved it, says Chuck. I was pretty good at it, and I couldn't get enough for a while.

In the Class AA individual state finals, the top classification for shooters, three shooters knocked down 200 birds in 200 shots. They were Daro Handy of Sutherlin, Marvin Loy of Eugene and Gerald Smallwood of Tigard.

Handy is generally acknowledged as the best trapshooter in Oregon. But in a shoot-off this day to determine the state champion, Loy knocked down 125 straight birds in sudden-death competition to outlast the other two shooters and win the state title.

Kinney says the Medford state championship team probably overachieved a little to claim the title with 957 downed birds in 1,000 shots.

That's pretty good shooting for the whole team, says Kinney. That's 96 percent.

Kinney was the team's designated Class AA shooter. To be a AA shooter, the shooter must average more than 97 hits in 100 shots in competition. Young was the Class A shooter, Granger Class B, Fields Class C and Sieg the D shooter.

Usually, the most satisfaction I get out of shooting is shooting grouse, quail or ducks in season, says Kinney. Trapshooting has been somewhat frustrating because I haven't won much, but winning this team thing today is a highlight for me in all these years.

Fields says he's surprised to be on the winning team. I don't hunt and I don't practice this much, he says. I just show up and shoot in the tournaments.

Today, we happened to win. I didn't expect it, but it's real satisfying to win a medal. I'll wear it proudly.

In individual competition, Howard Houtz of Central Point won the Class D state finals, knocking down 187 of 200 birds.

Fields finished second in the Class C state finals (192 out of 100); and Sieg was runner-up in the D Class finals with 186 out of 200.