Tourney brings out island’s best behind their 12-guage shotguns

Want a sure way to humble a man? Put a shotgun in his hands.

At the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club last Saturday, there were more than 20 guys with guns who didn’t want to talk a lot about their prowess shooting sport clays out of the air. Competing in the club’s annual Sport Clays Tournament, the shooters didn’t consider a 25-shot round, or “game,” to be any good unless they were shattering 20 or more of the optic orange clay disks flying over the club’s shotgun range.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” said Jimmy Berto, a South Whidbey High School graduate who showed up for the contest with his over-under 12-gauge, but without much practice.

Cully Lehman, who went to school with Berto, was similarly disappointed with an opening game of 18.

“I hoped to shoot a little better,” he said.

But with clays flying anywhere to ground level to nearly overhead, and somewhere between 10 and 100 yards on any given flight for any one of nine trap locations, there was little reason for anyone who hit anything to be disappointed. Though it was true that some of the best shooters at the club were near perfection over the course of five games that morning and afternoon, they were the exception.

The overall winner on the day was Tom Holum, who nailed a huge 107 of 125 clays on the day. He also won two of the five games and placed second in a third game.

Close behind on the leader board was runner up Loren Schmidt, who shattered 101 clays and won one game. Tournament organizer Mike McInerney was third overall with a 93 and one game victory.

The shooting contest is intended to sharpen the skills of sport shooters and hunters by simulating the flight of birds overhead and birds flushed from bushes. Participants shot from specially designed booths that kept the contest both safe and fair. Games are designed with clays flying out of different trap locations and rules are set for shooters, sometimes specifying two shots for every clay, other times putting to clays in the air at once.

Like golf, shooting sport clays can be unforgiving on an off day, even for well-seasoned outdoorsmen. Participant Jerry Friedman, who was one of the senior shooters taking his turn at the clays, didn’t have anything good to say about his first round. But he remained hopeful.

“That means it can only get better,” he said.

Also taking awards for their shooting on the day were the contest’s class winners. Holum was the winner in Class A, Dan Sousa in Class B with an 83 and, despite his feelings in the first round, Jimmy Berto was the Class C winner with a 71. Classes were determined by placing competitors in score order. With 18 participants, those taking first, seventh and 13th places were all winners.

Prizes for game winners were shotgun supplies. Class winners took home two boxes of shotgun shells each. The overall winner, Holum, was awarded an engraved belt buckle. It is Holum’s second buckle of the year and third total. Five buckles will be given away this year for five total shooting events.

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