By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
ELYSBURG -- Besides a keen eye and steady hand, there is one other key to Joseph Recla's success -- his family.
The native of Mahanoy Plane had one constant during his shoots last year in that his family traveled with him to every event in which he competed.
"Having my parents there is more of a motivation than a downgrade," Recla said. "I like having them there. It makes me feel more at home when I'm farther away from actual home."
It was not just any ordinary year for Recla.
Throughout a season that saw the foursome -- Recla along with his father Joe, mother Kathy and brother Ian -- span the country traveling to shoots, the younger Joe was named Trapshooter of the Year by the Pennsylvania Trapshooting Hall of Fame.
"(Trapshooter of the Year) means a lot of hard work paid off," Recla said. "Now that I'll be in (the Hall of Fame), I just don't believe it. I don't picture myself as being one of those (Hall of Famers) but now that my picture is going to be in there, I am one of those guys."
In 2012, Recla made the nation's gun ranges into his personal playgrounds, taking home first place in the junior events in nearly every shoot he entered. In his first trip to Elysburg during 2012, Recla gave spectators a taste of what was to come by sweeping the junior singles, doubles and handicap events.
At the state shoot, Recla returned to Elysburg to capture another junior singles title along with the junior doubles title, a class singles title and the Dennis Spancake Memorial and Howard E. Lewis Memorial for winning Junior Singles.
At the end of the state shoot, Recla added the Junior All-Around title to his rapidly-growing list of wins.
"(Joe) was a very dedicated trapshooter (growing up)," his father said. "His accomplishments came faster than we had thought. He just put his heart and soul into (shooting).
Recla said that he finds extra motivation to compete to honor the late president of the club where he first started shooting, Keystone Fish and Game.
"Some days I think about him and I put in that little extra effort," Recla said.
After the difficulty of losing someone who had helped Recla become the shooter that he is today, physical limitations stood in his way, as the result of a shoulder injury. With the ligaments in his shoulder not strong enough to hold the bones in place after recoil, Recla was forced to enter physical therapy and take time away from the range.
The shoots that he was forced to miss only made his desire to compete stronger, he said.
"After I got set off (with the injury), it made me want to come back stronger than I had been," Recla said. "I could shoot mentally, but physically, I'm in pain so it was rough for a while."
Despite shocking the trapshooting world last year with his consistency, Recla's success was not found overnight.
"It's been a process but I'd say (my progress) went faster than most people do," he said.
The fast rise that Recla has made in shooting led to him being offered a shooting scholarship to attend Midland University in Fremont, Neb., which he will do this fall.
"(A scholarship) makes me apply myself a little harder just for the fact that I know I'm there for a reason," he said.