The Northern Kentucky Top Guns are shooting once again for a national championship this month.
The team of scholastic trap shooters practices at the Bob White Sportsman’s Club in Claryville near Campbell County High School. They are heading to the national meet in Sparta, Ill., July 18-19. The complex has 120 trap fields spread out over three miles.
Head coach Dennis Menning said more than 2,000 kids will participate in the tournament. Many of the local participants are seasoned veterans of the sport already.
Each shooter has 200 targets in a competition. In trap shooting, targets or “birds” are flung out of a machine. The shooter never knows where the target is coming from or what path it will take. Hand-eye coordination and patience are key.
“Vendors from all across the country will be there to display the latest in shooting equipment,” Menning said. “It promises to bring out the best in all the shooters competing there. The kids will be able to meet other kids from across the nation and make lasting friendships. It is the granddaddy of all shoots.”
Like other sports motions such as a free throw or a golf swing, a pre-shot routine is crucial in trap-shooting, said Tanner Hamilton, a Campbell County High School student and multi-sport athlete there.
“It takes effort to try to do your best,” he said. “You have to go out and focus and know where you’re hitting the bird. If I don’t feel the gun is mounted right, I put it down and start my routine over.”
The Top Guns participated in the state shoot over July 4 weekend. Bringing home a first-place trophy was the quintet of Tyler Allphin, Travis Logan, Jordan McKinney, Rebekah Schnitzler and Devin Steinman. They scored an 852 out of 1,000 to win the title in the intermediate entry level division. Allphin shot 190 out of 200, followed by McKinney with 188, Schnitzler with 185, Logan 159 and Steinman 130. Allphin was third individually in the intermediate advanced category with his score, and McKinney was second in entry level.
“I just try to stay calm,” said Allphin, an incoming eighth-grader at Summit View Middle School in Independence, in a story from last year. “It’s really important. If you focus, you’ll do well.”
The varsity team took second place with 955 out of 1,000. Dakota Brashear led the way with 195, followed by Tanner Hamilton 194, Brennan Kamer 192, Casey Appleman 188 and Andrew Tempke 186.
Quentin Penrod, a veteran of the team and 2012 Campbell County graduate, shot 196 to win individually in the college division.
Jake Dickens broke the first 100 targets on his way to 194 during the competition. Elizabeth Womble hit her first 25 targets.
“The competition is what makes the shooter the best he can be,” Menning said. “All the practice in the world cannot replace shooting the tournament targets. You get in that zone and it all comes together.”
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