The Peninsula Shooting Stars lived up to their team name at the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program – Youth Education in Shooting Sports State Championship from June 11 to 13 in Birchwood.
The event drew 17 teams of under-18 shotgun shooters from around the state, adding up to 92 shooters overall.
The shooters can be up to 18 years old, but the oldest competitor on the central Peninsula-based Shooting Stars was a freshman in high school. That didn’t stop the Shooting Stars from taking second as a team, totaling 1265 points to lose to Rabbit Creek by one point.
“We’ve got some really good kids that work hard and get along really well,” said head coach Jim Trujillo of the Shooting Stars, who have been around for four years. “You can’t imagine how much the kids have grown, not just physically, but also mentally, because of the respect they have for handling firearms.
“They’re so far ahead of their peers it’s not even funny.”
The Shooting Stars have two seasons, the first starting in September and ending in Thanksgiving, and the second starting in March and ending with the big state meet at Birchwood. They practice once a week.
Trujillo, in his second year as head coach, said his shooters have improved so much because a total of four coaches are able to give a lot of one-on-one instruction to the kids. The other coaches are Stu Goldstein, Russ Morrison and Ronnie Zahacefski.
Trujillo said it’s not widely known that there is a lot of scholarship money available for shooting. He said he hopes that changes in the area when the current crop of shooters start heading to college.
“That’s what I’m directing them towards, trying to get scholarship funds,” he said. “Kids are getting full rides for shooting.
“There’s not many kids that shoot anymore. Up here it’s different, but down in the states they don’t shoot as much.”
The shooters competed in three disciplines — sporting clays, skeet and trap.
In sporting clays, the shooter walks through the woods to a total of 15 stations, with two trap machines at each station.
Trujillo said this is the weakest discipline for his squad because for as much as the Snowshoe Gun Club does for the team, there definitely are not 30 trap machines and the real estate required to practice sporting clays.
“We thank the Snowshoe Gun Club for letting us use the facility,” Trujillo said. “They provide a discount price for the targets. It’s a good thing for the kids.”
The Shooting Stars were able to hit their stride in skeet and trap.
In skeet, targets go right to left and left to right in singles and doubles, with two machines in use. In trap, one machine is used and targets move away either to the right or the left. Both skeet and trap use four rounds of 25 targets each.
Trujillo’s son, Adam, made his mark in trap by nailing all 100 targets for the victory in the men’s junior division and overall. It’s the first time the perfect score has happened at the state meet, and only the sixth time an under-18 shooter has done it nationally.
“I’m a competitor as well and I shoot nationally, and he looked like a professional out there,” Jim said of his son, who will be a freshman at Kenai Central.
Jim, who has hit 268 straight, said it’s not rare for an adult to shoot 100 in a row. But it’s different for 18-and-under shooters.
“He was very focused that morning before he shot,” Jim said of his son, who finished 13th overall. “It was different than the way he normally shoots.
“He’s normally talking to other kids but that morning he didn’t. He was totally focused.”
In skeet, Sam Schimmel hit 97 of 100 targets to take first in senior varsity and first overall.
Trujillo said Schimmel, who finished third overall, is only a freshman. He shoots in the winter in the state of Washington and in the summer with the Shooting Stars.
“He’s just a very good teammate,” Trujillo said. “All the kids really love Sam. He gets along with everyone and he’s very supportive of their shooting efforts.”
Billy Horne, a sophomore who is home-schooled, hit 75 straight in trap at the tournament.
Another name to keep an eye on is Nick Edwards, who will be a sophomore at Soldotna High School.
Edwards has competed in the Junior Olympics, and Trujillo said the first time Edwards walked into the field, he hit 24 of 25 in trap. Edwards was ninth overall at this state tournament.
James Lott, who will be a freshman at Soldotna, also had a great state meet, taking sixth overall.
Emily Books, one of two girls on the team, was seventh overall amongst the ladies.
But Trujillo said the highlight for him was Bradley Walters, a seventh-grader at Soldotna Middle School.
Walters started shooting last year, but struggled because he is right-handed and left-eye dominant.
That meant he had to close one eye to shoot, and that robbed him of a full field of view for picking up targets.
Walters has switched to shooting left-handed and was 48th overall amongst the boys.
“He shot very good scores,” Trujillo said. “He’s only switched hands for a month and a half.
“He’s kept with it, and shows more prospect than anybody else because he works so hard at it.”
Trujillo said the team will have tryouts on Sept. 5, with a hunter’s safety course required for all shooters. Those with questions can call him at 252-0065.
Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program – Youth Education in Shooting Sports State Championship
Results for Peninsula Shooting Stars
Sam Schimmel — 2nd overall in senior varsity men’s, 3rd overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 81 total of 100, 2nd in senior varsity men’s, 3rd overall; Skeet, 97 of 100, 1st men’s varsity, 1st overall; Trap, 85 of 100, 14th men’s senior varsity, 24th overall.
James Lott — 2nd overall in junior men’s, 6th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 69, 5th in junior men’s, 24th overall; Skeet, 90, 3rd men’s junior skeet, 8th overall; Trap, 95, 3rd men’s junior, 4th overall.
Nick Edwards — 6th overall in senior varsity men’s, 9th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 70, 15th in senior varsity men’s, 22nd overall; Skeet, 89, 5th men’s varsity, 10th overall; Trap, 93, 3rd men’s senior varsity, 7th overall.
Adam Trujillo — 4th overall in junior men’s, 13th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 70, 3rd in junior men’s, 22nd overall; Skeet, 78, 7th men’s junior, 33rd overall; Trap, 100, 1st men’s junior, 1st overall.
Bailey Horne — 9th overall in senior varsity men’s; 14th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 76, 5th in senior varsity men’s, 7th overall; Skeet, 87, 7th men’s varsity, 12th overall; Trap, 85, 15th men’s senior varsity, 24th overall.
Tyler Morrison — 5th overall in junior men’s; 16th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 67, 6th in junior men’s, 30th overall; Skeet, 86, 4th men’s junior, 15th overall; Trap, 91, 4th men’s junior, 12th overall.
Bradley Phelps — 15th overall in senior varsity men’s, 23rd overall; Sporting clays, 67, 17th in senior varsity men’s, 30th overall; Skeet, 79, 16th men’s varsity, 26th overall; Trap, 88, 10th men’s senior varsity, 17th overall.
Emily Books — 2nd overall in ladies junior varsity, 7th overall for ladies; Sporting clays, 56, 2nd in junior varsity ladies, 51st overall; Skeet, 78, 2nd ladies junior varsity, 32nd overall; Trap, 82, 3rd ladies junior varsity, 37th overall.
Wyatt Denna — 10th overall in junior men’s; 36th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 51, 16th in junior men’s, 59th overall; Skeet, 70, 11th men’s junior, 47th overall; Trap, 84, 9th men’s junior, 29th overall.
Garrett Horne — 12th overall in junior men’s, 42nd overall; Sporting clays, 46, 20th in junior men’s, 69th overall; Skeet, 64, 13th men’s junior, 54th overall; Trap, 87, 6th men’s junior, 19th overall.
Billy Morrow — 14th overall in junior men’s, 46th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 56, 12th in junior men’s, 51st overall; Skeet, 59, 14th men’s junior, 59th overall; Trap, 74, 15th men’s junior, 49th overall.
Bradley Walters — 15th overall in junior men’s, 48th overall in men’s; Sporting clays, 63, 8th in junior men’s, 38th overall; Skeet, 49, 22nd men’s junior, 73rd overall; Trap, 68, 20th men’s junior, 63rd overall.
Katelynn Kimes — 2nd overall in ladies junior, 14th overall for ladies; Sporting clays, 48, 2nd in junior ladies, 65th overall; Skeet, 42, 3rd ladies junior, 82nd overall; Trap, 2nd ladies junior, 51st overall.