With a steady movement, 14-year-old Abby Blakeley finds the clay pigeon escaping a bunker at 80 miles per hour.
Her open eyes fix on her target and, for an instant, everything is calm. To her, the orange disc is suspended stationary in the air.
Blakeley’s brain registers her motive in four one-hundredths of a second, transferring a command to her right index finger, which pulls the trigger of her double-barreled Perazzi shotgun.
The pigeon explodes.
Blakely pulls an empty shell from her gun, tosses it in a bucket below her and casually moves on to the next rubber mat. She begins her pre-shot routine.
This is the sport of bunker trap shooting, or international trap, not to be confused with other variations of trap shooting or clay pigeon shooting that involve skeet or sporting clays.
Blakeley is training at Bridge Creek Clays and South Georgia Youth Shooting Club, a 10-mile drive outside of Moultrie, Ga., and 20 miles due north of Thomasville.
Blakeley lives in Tallahassee, where she will be an incoming Godby High freshman. As many as four times a week, Blakeley, through car rides from her family, travels the 72 miles to Bridge Creek Clays.
“It’s totally worth it,” Blakely said. “Being 14, I still want to do certain things with my friends, but I want to go to the Olympics and so in order to do that I have to train, I have to practice, and I have to be dedicated to it.”
“Abby started before she turned 13, and I usually start with American trap targets which are slow and easy, but she didn’t want to do that,” Simpson said. “She wanted to shoot what the rest of the kids were shooting. We’re a little over a year into it now and Abby is going to be phenomenal.”
In two weeks, she’ll be back in Colorado Springs to compete in the Junior Olympics.
“Abby at 14 years old is No. 1 for her age group in the United States,” Simpson said. “As a coach, it really makes me feel good to see the progression and growth as they mature into it and just get better and better.”
For more on Abby Blakely, visit Tallahassee.com