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Feb. 8, 2022 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Eastern Oregon University trapshooting team is ready to hit the road again. After a successful finish at the regional level, the team has set its sights on five days of national competition in San Antonio.
The trapshooting team, a university-sanctioned club sport, competed in January at the ACUI Clay Target West Coast Championship in Las Vegas. Now individually qualified, team members are preparing for Collegiate Clay Target Nationals in Texas at the end of March.
“We have competed in the West Coast tournament for four years now, and this is our highest finish,” Trapshooting Coach John Shorts said.
The team began training for the West Coast Championships in September. The event lasted three days and had 74 shooters. EOU students,19 total, attended and competed in six events split between trapshooting, skeet shooting and sporting clays.
Trapshooting requires competitors to shoot at clay pigeons moving away from the shooter, skeet has the pigeons cross in front of the shooter, while sporting clays has the shooter traverse a randomized course with varied clay pigeon targets.
“I like trapshooting because that’s what we’re familiar with, but I really enjoy sporting clays because it resembles real-life hunting, which I’ve never done before and it’s just so different from what we normally do. So, it’s nice to just step out of the stationary trapshooting sometimes,” team member Emilee Freeman said.
The team came in second place with multiple students setting personal records or coming in the top of their division.
“For me, it’s having the students there and seeing so many shoot their personal bests. We had one student in Vegas that actually shot three personal bests there,” Shorts said.
Among the accomplishments, Emilee Freeman placed fifth in Doubles Trap and Double Skeet in the Women’s Division and set multiple personal bests. Brett Troutman was the top shooter for EOU and won the Skeet Doubles event in extremely windy conditions. Savannah Shorts placed fourth in the Women’s Trap event and sixth in Women’s Skeet.
“It was different because we don’t shoot skeet doubles very much and when we go to practice skeet, we, most of the time, just shoot normal skeet and have little time to practice skeet doubles, so, it’s a different game we got there…The wind definitely didn’t help anybody out, but it’s fun, I got into a good groove and hit targets,” Troutman said.
Mutual support and friendly competition within the team helped keep the students motivated despite high wind and blinding sunny conditions.
“Our whole team just comes together and really supports each other. Yes, it’s very competitive even within the team itself, but we always want to see each other do our personal best. We have that competitive mindset, but we’re still compassionate to support each other,” Freeman said.
The ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Nationals begin March 21 and run through March 26. The competition consists of six events, trap, trap doubles, skeet, skeet doubles, sporting clays and super sporting clays. Over 90 schools and up to 1,000 shooters will attend the championship.
“It makes a long, tiring competition. The shooters that haven’t gone to an ACUI tournament before, by the time we’re done with the three-day tournament we’re pretty tired, because you’re on your feet all day long packing a gun. So, this one’s almost double the amount of shooting and double the amount of time. So, it’s kind of like a marathon for them,” Shorts said.
Overall, the team is focused on its recent success and determined to perform well at the championships.
“I think this year we’re going to place really well down at nationals. We’ve got more people this year that are really focused on competition. They want to do well, they want to win and that’s going to be a fun tournament because of that,” Shorts said.
Students and coaches hope to raise enough funds to cover the costs of travel and competition. Donations are accepted through the EOU Foundation and at eou.edu/club-sports/trapshooting-team-donations.
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