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Flying Yankee Sportsmen compete in trap shoot

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

Photo courtesy of Master Sgt. David D. Miller

COLEBROOK, Conn. -- A beautiful shooting day on May 19, 2012, started with a safety range briefing and a certified instructor to Project Appleseed. This organization promotes eco-friendly fishing and marksmanship for new jun-ior shooters. Project Appleseed is an activity of The Revolutionary War Veterans Association, a non-profit organization, dedicated to teaching youth of America our shared heritage and histo-ry as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills. The volunteer instructors travel across the country teaching those who attend about the difficult choices, the heroic actions and the sacrifices that the Founders made on behalf of modern Americans, all of whom are their "descendants."

The Northwestern Connecticut Sportsmen's Association (NWCSA) was established in 1927. The NWCSA is one of Connecticut's oldest sportsmen's associations located in beautiful, rural Colebrook, an ideal location for members and non-members to enjoy many eco-friendly fresh air instructional shooting events. The club offers 3D archery range/matches, pistol range/matches, rifle range/matches, trap range/matches and acres of hunting. The ranges are handicap-accessible for wounded veterans too. The NWCSA hosts ladies' shots which is great for the spouses to have quality fun time to include young shooters too.

This year's second annual 103rd AW Hawg Smoke Trap match was shot under the American trap rules, gener-ally shot with a 12 gauge, single-barreled shotgun. Shooters will often buy a combo-set of a mono and over-under barrel gun for shooting singles and doubles respectively. Semi-autos are popular due to the low recoil and versatility because they can be used for singles, handicap and doubles. Trap guns differ from field and skeet guns in several ways and normally shoot higher than their counterparts as the targets are almost always shot on the rise with porting, and any-thing from an open to an improved choke. The majority of trap shotguns built today feature interchangeable choke tubes, but older guns generally have fixed chokes. Some shooters have a complete set of choke tubes (modified, improved modified, improved cylinder, full). Trap guns are built to withstand much more usage, upwards of 1000 shots straight. Most shooters will wear a vest or pouch that will hold 25 cartridges. Other common safety equipment are glasses and hearing protection such as "earmuffs" or ear plugs which the club provides free to the members of the 2nd AW trap match. Let me not forget to mention that shotguns AND ammo are provided by the club for free to the AW shooters.

The AW shooters shot at eco-friendly clay targets for this trap match, which were thrown by a trap machine. The trap machine is enclosed in a trap house which is down-range from the 103 AW shoot-ers. The trap house is tough enough to protect the ma-chine from errant shots. NWCSA's modern machine stores hundreds of clay tar-gets in a carousel and auto-matically loads clay targets into the throwing mechanism. It throws clays in many differ-ent directions with wind mak-ing shots even more difficult, but not this Saturday because the weather was perfect!

The AW shooters used American trap match rules and shot clays with lead target ammo, with a shot size 7 ½ . The guns were loaded--but with breech open-actioned--between sta-tions 1 through 5. The guns were and must be unloaded and open in the walk from station five back to one. The unloading must be done BE-FORE the shooter makes the turn to step off station five. This open-action requirement alone tends to discourage the use of auto-loading shotguns as it is time consuming to unload if the second shell is not used. Commands from the scorer and other shooters are as important to squad timing as the behaviors of the shoot-ers on the squad. To start a squad, the shooter will ask if the squad and puller are ready (usually by calling "Squad ready?" then "Puller ready?"), followed by asking to see one free target, traditionally saying, "Let's see one." The scorer will call missed targets with a command of: loss, lost, etc. When the first shooter has fired his final shot of the position the scorer will sometimes call "end" and will command "all change" after fifth shooter has fired his last shot. The shooter on position five then moves behind the rest of the shooters on his way to the first station and will signal when he is ready to the first shooter who is now on station two. The standard call for a target is "pull," but many shooters like to use their own variations of "pull," or words that will help them concentrate on the target.

A total of 50 rounds were fired by the AW family and the competition was concluded. The president of NWCSA, Mr. Jay Marshall, was grill-ing hot dogs and fresh pulled pork with rolls, potato salad, coleslaw, soda and water for us. Let me not forget to mention the club volunteer members who instructed us were very patient with first-time shooters, in-structing us on safety and improving our skill set with on the spot critique and commands if we missed. Last year, the 103rd Operations Group (OPS) won the match but this year, Mission Support Group took the title with top scorer John Taylor taking top shot prize with a score of 39 out of 50.

Other shooters were Tech Sgt. Keith Griswold, Lt. Col. Jose Torres, Staff Sgt. David Torres, 2nd Lt. James Driscolli with brother Blake Driscolli, Master Sgt. Steve Maxam and Jr., Lt. Col. Scott Norton and Jr., Capt. Chad Montague, Miss Amber Pancetta, Staff Sgt. Brian Hinckley, Lt. Col. "Tuna" LaTona--shooting a 38 of 50, though he was allowed to swap out three guns during his last match--he shot great along with the others. And even with Tuna smack talk-ing during my round--no excuses, just saying--I scored a 37 out of 50.

Again, a special thank you to NWCSA for your continued community support of the Connecti-cut National Guard and military family members and warm welcome and free trap match making this another great year of safe family fun. The club and I will be looking forward to next year. Hope to see you there; look up my e-mail and give it a try next year, you'll get hooked on the sport called trap, friendship and especially the fresh pulled pork on rolls.