The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 8, 2014

Trapshooting: Young shooters excel at AIM competition

ELYSBURG — Blake O’Brien exhibited the usual wide-eye expression you would expect from a 10-year old after viewing the impressive facility of the Valley Gun & Country Club, site of the annual Pennsylvania State Shoot, for the very first time.

All that aside, once the competition got underway Sunday in the Pennsylvania State AIM Championship Pre-Sub Junior Division, he became all business and the end result was a second-place finish for the Palmyra resident, who only took up shooting just over one month ago and has already begun to build up a resume that could possibly lead him all the way to the Olympics, if his early childhood dreams come true.

Competing for the Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association, O’Brien broke 78 out of 100 targets to earn runner-up honors behind Dawson Sterner of the Mason Dixon Clay Busters S3 squad, who broke 90 out of 100.

“He’s constantly practicing and always looking to improve,” Doris Shyda, who inherited the job of being his trap shooting coach upon retirement, said. “He’s only been shooting for less than two months and he’s here at this wonderful facility and already taking home a prize, which will only motivate him even more to get better.”

O’Brien’s interest in trap happened by accident when at the annual Palmyra Youth Field Day he broke six out of eight targets the first time using the gun. His future was cemented at that moment, and it’s Shyda who is there to stir the ingredients and work on shaping the potentially young shooter into aiming for bigger and better prizes.

“The first time out he missed the target and then broke 15 in a row,” Shyda said. “I knew he was something special and all the ability was there. It only was a matter of providing him with the proper guidance and equipment.”

O’Brien started shooting guns at the age of four and in a matter of time he became adept at using a BB gun, 22 and 12-gauge shotgun. But it was only recently following the competition at the Youth Field Day that history was changed and his sole attention turned to trap.

“I enjoyed going with my dad to the Sportsmen’s Club and learning to shoot,” Blake said. “I really enjoy what I’m doing now and eager to get better. Can you believe the size of this place? It’s huge and so big. But once I began to shoot, I overcame being nervous and forgot where I was and just concentrated on the targets.”

Steven L. Ross III of the Valley Gun & Country Club squad finished third in the Pre-Sub Junior Division behind O’Brien with a 67; Domenic Caruso of the VGCC placed third with a 99, which was achieved by four other shooters in his classification, but rankings were determined by reversing sub results.

In the Pa. State AIM Championship Junior Division Team competition, VGCC — the team of Scott Wagner (98), Nikki Harris (90), Domenic Caruso (99), Ryan Oswald (90) and Paul Ahrensfield (92) — finished in third place with a 469 behind the winners: the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Shooting Team (473). Warren County Clay Busters were second.

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