Photo provided by Peninsula Shooting Stars At top, Brayden Gagnon, Bradley Phelps, Bailey Horne and Nick Edwards, and at bottom, Bradley Walters, Emily Books, Lance Kramer and James Lott show off their hardware from the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program - Youth Education in Shooting Sports State Championship last weekend at Birchwood Shooting Park.

Photo provided by Peninsula Shooting Stars At top, Brayden Gagnon, Bradley Phelps, Bailey Horne and Nick Edwards, and at bottom, Bradley Walters, Emily Books, Lance Kramer and James Lott show off their hardware from the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program - Youth Education in Shooting Sports State Championship last weekend at Birchwood Shooting Park.

Peninsula Shooting Stars excel at state meet

The Peninsula Shooting Stars brought quality, not quantity, to the Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program – Youth Education in Shooting Sports State Championship last weekend at Birchwood Shooting Park.

The local squad had just eight shooters to the meet, but five of those were able to take first place in their age and gender group in one of the three main events — trap, skeet and sporting clays.

The Shooting Stars also won each of those three divisions as a team at the championship, which included 98 shooters from 17 teams located all around the state. Division winners are determined by taking the top three shooters from each team in each event.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see 98 kids out there toting shotguns and knowing everybody is safe, conscientious and responsible,” said Adam Trujillo, in his third year as head coach for the Stars, who are in their sixth year. “It’s really neat to see how our kids have grown up over the last five or six years into young adults.”

Trujillo said the reason for his squad’s success is the attention each shooter gets. Trujillo, as well as coaches Stu Goldstein, Russ Morrison and Ronnie Zahacefski, teach just 12 kids.

The champs were homeschooled junior Bailey Horne in boys senior varsity trap, Soldotna High junior Nick Edwards in boys senior varsity skeet, SoHi junior Emily Books in girls senior varsity trap, SoHi freshman Bradley Walters in boys junior skeet and SoHi freshman Brayden Gagnon in boys junior sporting clays.

Edwards was high overall for boys senior varsity, meaning he did the best when the three main disciplines were tallied. Gagnon took high overall for the juniors.

And the Stars that didn’t take titles still placed high. Homeschooled senior Bradley Phelps had fifths in boys senior varsity trap and boys senior varsity sporting clays, Kenai Central sophomore James Lott had a second in boys senior varsity skeet, and Lance Kramer had a seventh in boys junior skeet.

Other team members are homeschooled freshman Garrett Horne, SoHi junior Katelyn Kimes, Kenai sophomore Adam Trujillo and Soldotna sophomore Wyatt Denna.

Kramer, Gagnon and Walters took junior men high overall team, while Phelps, Edwards and Lott took senior men high overall team. Books also won a title in trap triumphant, a shoot at state done for fun.

The senior division is for ages 15 to 18, while the junior division is for ages 12 to 14.

The performance at state also put the future of the Stars program on solid footing. The team won $20,000 for its endowment fund from MidwayUSA, a hunting and outdoors retailer. MidwayUSA donated $75,000 to the state shoot.

The Stars can draw 5 percent a year from the endowment fund to help pay for costs. With the generosity of the Snowshoe Gun Club, Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, Trujillo said the Stars have been able to cut the cost per round in the program to $5. Normally, the cost is $12.

“I see the future getting better and better, I really do,” Trujillo said.

He said trap shooting is growing rapidly at the high school level, with 5,000 kids now showing up for the state shoot in Nebraska.

Trujillo added that there is college scholarship money for trap shooting, but competition for it is strong. Trujillo said he will take his squad to a shoot in Boise, Idaho, in October to compete against college shooters and introduce his shooters to college coaches.

The one thing Trujillo said the program needs is more young shooters. Kids age out of the program at 18, and there are just three 12- and 13-year-olds in the program right now.

Trujillo said those interested in joining the team must complete a hunter’s safety course. Then, they can show up to the next practice, which is Sept. 3 at the Snowshoe Gun Club at noon.

Alaska Scholastic Clay Target Program – Youth Education in
Shooting Sports State
Championship

Birchwood Shooting Park

Peninsula Shooting Stars

Bailey Horne — 1st in boys senior varsity trap, 8th in boys senior varsity skeet, 5th in boys senior varsity sporting clays.

Nick Edwards — 4th in boys senior varsity trap, 1st in boys senior varsity skeet, 4th in boys senior varsity sporting clays.

Bradley Phelps — 5th in boys senior varsity trap, 6th in boys senior varsity skeet, 5th in boys senior varsity sporting clays.

James Lott — 11th in boys senior varsity trap, 2nd in boys senior varsity skeet, 3rd in boys senior varsity sporting clays.

Emily Brooks — 1st in girls senior varsity trap, 3rd in girls senior varsity skeet, 7th in girls senior varsity sporting clays.

Bradley Walters — 3rd in boys junior trap, 1st in boys junior skeet, 5th in boys junior sporting clays.

Brayden Gagnon — 6th in boys junior trap, 2nd in boys junior skeet, 1st in boys junior sporting clays.

Lance Kramer — 19th in boys junior trap, 7th in boys junior skeet, 17th in boys junior sporting clays.

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