The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 8, 2014

Trapshooting: Valley Gun & Country Club upgrades facilities

ELYSBURG — We’ve often heard that you only get one opportunity to make a great “first and lasting” impression in life. With that being said, nobody does it better than the members of the Valley Gun & Country Club, who are constantly looking to upgrade and upscale the facilities that play host to several top trap shooting events, including this week’s Pennsylvania State Shoot, which is the second largest of its kind in the United States.

This year’s newest improvement to the spacious facility on the grounds of the Valley Gun & Country Club, which actually began last year and was completed this season before the first scheduled event, cost over $100,000.

“We tore out banks nine, 10 and 11 on the lower line and moved them forward,” Chuck Fritzges, tournament director, said. “They were always too close to the 27-yard line.

The project involved completely taking down the old houses, which were there for over 40 years, and then after filling the hole, and levelling the entire area before setting down preformed trap houses.

“In addition, forms were made for the shooting pads that allow them to be transported from field to field to conform to exact specifications.”

Competitors got their first look at the renovation during the Keystone Open in May.

Robert Miller, coach and father to two competitors on the Breaking Clays Team out of the Southern Chester Shooting League, was completely overwhelmed by the changes to the facility and to several of the team members who were competing for the first time at VGCC.

“It blew my mind the first time I came here several years ago when I saw all the traps,” Miller said. “But this time around, to see the impressive improvements to an already great facility, was just fantastic. Everything here is laid out just right, and when you think you’ve seen it all, they come out and improve the place even more.”

Sue Bechtold, one of the team’s coaches, remarked after bringing a hastily put-together squad last year to the spacious Elysburg facility (and having two of the squad’s competitors qualify for the national shoot in Sparta, Ill.) that she could not wait until this season to re-visit the VGCC.

“We were all looking forward to coming back here and competing at this facility,” Bechtold said. “All of our young shooters and the few who were coming here for the first time this weekend were in complete awe with the facility and all of the traps in comparison to what they are accustomed to shooting at back home.

“What was especially nice and something we all will never forget was the hospitality of the veteran shooters who are here already, and the help they offered to our shooters. They provided tips and tutored all and anyone who was willing to listen to their advice.

“Kay Ohye came behind our squad and watched to see how we did and his daughter Debbie offered words of encouragement, something we all will never forget.”

Bechtold’s daughter Heidi, who has qualified for international competition in Germany, Italy and France, where she will participate in bunker trap, broke 95 out of 100 birds Sunday in the second Half of the Colonial Classic Singles, while five of her teammates have advanced to the national shoot later this summer.

Bob Bortz, coach of the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Shooting Team, has been coming to VGCC since 1984 and continues to marvel at how the facility has changed over the years, how organizers are always looking to improve not only its look, but also how to protect the shooters and workers and help this particular venue to increase in popularity.

“The Lehigh Valley is one of the largest areas for the number of facilities we have in a 10-mile radius,” Bortz said. “And yet they pale in comparison when we travel to Elysburg and compete in these events for our young shooters. We brought two shooters who never shot a gun prior to this year, and they were in total amazement when they came here and saw all that is being offered to both young and old shooters.

“You can’t help but come away impressed. And that not only includes our young shooters, but their parents and friends who follow them and come here and see for themselves this great complex.”

Future plans for the facility include replacing all of the 53 traps before the start of the 2015 season.

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