Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BARRELS OF FUN; Skeet Shooting: 'You've Got to Swing, See, and Pull the Trigger'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BARRELS OF FUN; Skeet Shooting: 'You've Got to Swing, See, and Pull the Trigger'

Article excerpt

Byline: Clayton Freeman

It all seems so simple. A 4 1/2-inch clay disc whirls across the wide-open spaces of a level field, only to be blown up by a perfectly aimed blast of a shotgun.

But the challenge of hitting that target has made skeet and trap shooting an enduring test of composure and skill for generations.

"You've got to swing, see, and pull the trigger," Jacksonville Skeet & Trap Club president Larry Rolfe said. "That's exciting when you get started, because it's hard to hit the target."

The club has been Northeast Florida's destination for shooting sports for more than three quarters of a century, tracing its history back to 1936 - making it one of the oldest continuously operated gun clubs in the nation.

Today, it occupies about 75 acres along New Berlin Road on Jacksonville's Northside, with stations for skeet, trap, and 5-stand shooting. Of those, skeet has become the most widely practiced.

A recent morning drew shooters from as far away as Paraguay and as close as the shooting teams of Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida, where young marksmen - and markswomen - practice to take their place in the sport's next wave.

"You do compete against other individuals and other schools, but it's a mental game," JU team member Lissette Matos Minehart said. "It's something that involves a lot of focus and clarity."

In addition to recreational shooters and groups, the club also holds special events such as state and collegiate competitions, as well as the recently completed 2014 Jacksonville Skeet Open.

When many people think of shooting sports, they visualize competitors firing at stationary targets. But that's not the case with skeet and trap shooting, which require sharp eyes and a steady hand to hit the flying disc.

"We sometimes say skeet is golf with a shotgun," Rolfe said.

Many of the same attributes involved in golf - hand-eye coordination and maintaining an even swing - are critical in both skeet and trap shooting. When it comes to finding success, though, one principle stands out.

"You must keep your eye on the target at all times," said club instructor Early Piety. …

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