Thursday, October 14, 2010

Left lots of room for improvement in 2011

Just got my 2011 ATA Average Card.  I never really had time to think about what my averages were like in 2010.  I don't think I've had numbers that low since my first or second year shooting.  The good news is that I've left myself PLENTY of room for improvement...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back from hiatus.

So I'm married now.  I don't really feel much different than when I was engaged.  Maybe it's too new yet.  I do feel less stressed though.  Life is a lot more calm now that the wedding planning is done and the wedding day and honeymoon have come and gone.

This means that I will be making more of an effort to keep this bad boy (blog) updated.  Shouldn't be too hard since I hardly ever thought about my blog since my last post on July 11th.  The only time I thought of it was whenever I recalled my visit with Dave Kern at MEC.  They treated me so well when I went up there; I feel terrible that I haven't done my article about it yet.

The post is coming, though.  I'm going to work on it this weekend as long as nothing gets in the way.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boxhorn ATA Wrap-up: 7/11/2010

Believe it or not, MEC called me Thursday afternoon and asked me to go up there at the last second. I will post about that very soon, but since it was a last second call, I was not entirely prepared and need a couple more days to finalize some details.

Instead, this post is about today's ATA event at Boxhorn Gun Club. The plan for the day was 200 singles, 100 handicap, and 50 pair of doubles. Janesville and Weston were also having shoots today, so it wasn't clear what kind of turnout we would have, especially since we were offering 200 targets in the singles event. The hope was that $15 targets would help bring people in despite all of the other concerns.

Our last few shoots, we had trouble getting people through the door early enough to get things started on time. Today, we didn't really have that problem. We had one person signed up on the first squad, which we were able to move to the third squad so he didn't have to shoot alone. This allowed us to start the day off with the second squad.

We had a bunch of people come in that only wanted to shoot the first hundred of the singles. I had anticipated there would be a few people who would want to do this, but there were a few more than expected. We did a decent job keeping these people squadded together so that other shooters wouldn't be affected when these people didn't show up for the second hundred. Many people were unaware that we were having 200 singles, so if we have another event with this format, we will have to communicate better.

I think the 200 singles also affected the number of entries we got in other events. We had 6 full squads of singles (28 entries, 10 of which only shot the first hundred), 5 partial squads of handicap (20 entries), and almost 2 full squads of doubles (9 entries). We threw a total of 7500 targets, which is about what we did on one of our better $15 target days earlier this year. The targets were set pretty well, but there was a steady breeze from the south which would flatten them out from time to time.

The day ran pretty smoothly considering we had 400 program targets, and we were able to finish shooting the doubles at about 4:15 PM. I think that's the earliest we've finished one of our shoots this year. We ended up doing a shotgun start in the handicap, which probably cut 45 minutes off of the end of the day. Doubles was run on two traps, and since we only had two squads, they went very quick.

The weather was pretty good overall. The temperature got up there a little, but since it was partially cloudy, there were many times where it felt a few degrees cooler than what the thermometer read. Scores were pretty good, and we even saw a few faces that hadn't visited us yet this year. A couple of young guys who came in with their fathers hoping to shoot practice ended up shooting the first hundred in the singles, and both broke their first ever registered 25-straight! Robert Klade broke a 93 and Taylor Kojis broke TWO 25-straights in his round, breaking 96.  Here they are shortly after receiving their 25-straight patches.

Now to the results. Below are some of the top scores from each event. Thanks to all who came out and I hope everyone had fun.

Bob Okray - 197
Michael Monahan - 196
Linda Reimer - 194
Edward Kerwin - 193
Bryon Fennig - 192
Bob Klobuchar - 192

Charles Zwicke - 93 (25.5)
Bob Klobuchar - 93 (24.5)
Donald Liedtke - 93 (22.5)
Bryon Fennig - 93 (23)
Jordan Hintz - 91 (22)
Robert Hunter - 90 (20)

Dan Murphy - 97
Dale Reimer - 94
Bob Okray - 93
Charles Zwicke - 92
Bob Klobuchar - 91
Jordan Hintz - 90

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

MEC visit's gonna happen, I promise!

Due to unforeseen circumstances, my visit with MEC will not happen tomorrow. It will be rescheduled, however, I don't yet have a date. I am working with them to figure out a time, and when one is planned, I'll report back. I'm guessing it will probably be AFTER the State Shoot. I have compiled all of the responses to my earlier post, and I will be taking those with me when I eventually make my visit.

If you haven't yet submitted to me your questions or comments for/about MEC, please do so. You can comment directly on any of my MEC posts here, or you can e-mail me directly at

Thanks for your patience...I promise you it will be well worth the wait!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Slight change in plans

The trip to MEC has been rescheduled for Thursday, July 8th. Look for my summary some time Thursday night or Friday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Planning a visit with MEC, and I need your help!

So, remember that posting I did a few weeks back about MEC and how they're a great place to work?  I wrote that post because when I stumbled across that article in the Journal Sentinel, I immediately felt proud that a company affiliated with the shooting sports was receiving accolades.

Well, apparently MEC was happy that I noticed the article and took time to blog about it...

The day after I posted it, I got a message from the assistant to the CEO from MEC, thanking me for the kind words and asking me to call them because the CEO would like to speak to me about my article.  I was dumbfounded!  That post was only the 11th for my blog at that time, and I never expected having the opportunity to speak to the CEO of ANY company, let alone one of the most respected companies in the state and in the worldwide shooting community!

The assistant who initially contacted me is Linda Williams, and she found my blog because she setup a Google alert which notified her of any content on the web pertaining to MEC.  Once I posted my article, she got an alert sent directly to her...simple as that.  Speaking to her, I got a sense that she and MEC are very in tune with the ever changing marketing that companies need to engage in to stay competitive these days.  I also got a sense that there's a lot of employee pride at MEC, and I'm sure that part of the reason is the fact that it is entirely employee-owned.

Linda put me in touch with the CEO, Bob Kamphuis (pronounced Camp-house).  Bob is very personable and I got the feeling that he's extremely down to earth considering he's the CEO of a company that is a worldwide leader in its industry.  Bob expressed his gratitude for my article, and he invited me to visit MEC so I could meet him and Dave Kern, head of the reloading division. I enthusiastically accepted his invitation and asked if I could take a tour of the facilities and blog about the whole experience.  They said "yes", and on this Friday (July 2nd), I'm heading to Mayville to visit MEC.

This is an opportunity for me gather information about MEC which may not be widely known, and it's also an opportunity for me to ask them questions on behalf of the general shooting public.  I urge anyone who is curious to know anything about MEC to send me a message with your question.  I will attempt to ask every question that's sent to me, and I will write at least one follow-up article with all of the information that I gained, and maybe even some pictures and videos from the visit.

You might be asking me, "how can I send you a message, Dan?"  There are a few ways to do so.  The best way is to leave a comment on this article.  If you don't know how to do that, you can visit this link for instructions.  Alternate ways you can message me are by e-mail at, or if you are on Twitter you can follow and DM me @deadpair, or if you got to this article via a posting in a forum or discussion thread you can post your questions/topics in response to the posting there.  I will check all of these locations and compile everything prior to my visit.

I hope to have lots of questions from you guys by Friday!

Want to comment on my blog but don't know how?

I haven't had a lot of people commenting directly on my posts here, so I wanted to write up a quick guide for how to submit a comment to something that I've posted, just in case people are having troubles.  You can test these instructions out right here on this posting if you want, so that you are well practiced before replying to any of my other posts.

If you've read my article and wish to leave a post, follow these steps:
  1. If you're not already at the bottom of the article, go to the bottom and click the text that says 0 comments.  NOTE: it may have other values instead of 0, for example, 4 comments.  See the below image for a visual example.

  2. Once you click the comments link, a window will pop up for you to type your comment.  If there are many comments, and you don't wish to read through all of them, click the Jump to comment form link at the top of the window or scroll to the very bottom

  3. Type your comment in the Leave your comment section of the window

  4. After you type your comment, immediately under the comment box you will see a randomly generated word or phrase.  You need to type that word or phrase into the Word Verification box

  5. Next, you need to select an option under the Choose an identity section
    • If you don't have a Google account or an OpenID, you can choose to enter your name or submit your post anonymously
      • Select the Name/URL option if you want to enter your name and/or a web address if you have one
      • Select the Anonymous option if you wish to submit your post completely anonymously
    • If you have a Google/Gmail account or an OpenID, select the corresponding option and enter your credentials

  6. Click the Preview button if you wish to see how your comment will look before submitting

  7. Finally, click the Publish Your Comment button to submit your comment
That's all you have to do!  Feel free to test this out right now on this post. If you have other questions about how to use this blog, feel free to ask them by submitting a comment, or you can e-mail me at

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Boxhorn ATA Wrap-up: 6/20/2010

I wanted to write a nice piece on the shoot held at Boxhorn last weekend, but haven't had time.  I'll just post a few things and then I'll do a follow up entry with more of my thoughts about how the ATA program is progressing this year.  For now, a summary of our Father's Day shoot is all I have.

The weather was near perfect...hardly any wind, comfortable temperatures (upper 70s), and the light was excellent.  The targets were set perfectly (credit Tom Pilak), and for the first time all year, the doubles event had hardly any broken targets (Rick found an issue with a PAT trap part that was causing the elevator to break the second target).

The only problem was that we didn't have a great turnout...just an OK one.  55 total entries, which is 4 more than we had for our previous shoot.  I heard Darien had less than us.  The only other club in the state throwing registered targets on Father's Day was Eau Claire.

Bob Klobuchar beat out Jordan Hintz in the Magic Number shoot off, and walked away with a special Brewers package worth over $120.  Bob and Jordan both were victors in each event that they entered.  Kevin Longberg registered his first ever 25-straight in the singles event, and tied for Class D with a 94.  Here he is receiving his patch:

Here are the full results:

Singles (22 entries)
AA: Bob Okray, 98x100 (Mike Nawikas forfeit)
A: Bob Klobuchar, 100x100
B: Don Liedtke, 97x100
C: None
D: Norman Thorpe, 94x100 (won coin toss over Kevin Longberg)
Veteran: Ed Fish, 96x100
Lady: None
Junior: None

Handicap (22 entries)
18-21 yd: Jordan Hintz, 93x100
22-24 yd: Bob Klobuchar, 91x100 (20-24 shootoff over Bryon Fennig 20-22)
25-26 yd: Randy Tersen, 92x100

Doubles (11 entries)
A: Dan Murphy, 97x100
B: Jordan Hintz, 91x100
C: Bob Klobuchar, 93x100
D: Larry Wahl, 64x100

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Father's Day ATA Shoot at Boxhorn

This weekend, Boxhorn Gun Club is holding a special Father's day ATA shoot.  100 singles, 100 handicap, and 50 pair of doubles, PLUS a special Magic Number miss-and-out shootoff with a complete Brewers game experience to be won!

The magic number will be drawn at the conclusion of the day's events. Entry in an event gives you a chance to shootoff, however, each person may only shootoff once no matter how many of their scores contain the magic number. Last person left standing wins the prize.

In addition to the magic number shootoff, we are awarding cash trophies in each of the events. Our options pay out very respectful amounts too.

For more details about this and other shoots at Boxhorn this summer, check out our program:

See you Sunday!

It's your turn to shoot YOUR mouth off about micro-stamping

I don't usually get too political, but I'm always keeping my eye on the battles over the 2nd Ammendment. I know you probably don't read my blog for political information, so I will only post something if I think it's truly important...

What do you know about micro-stamping technology? Were you aware that California already has enacted similar legislation? Did you know that Wisconsin is considering legislation which would require all new handguns sold in the state to have this technology?

I'm not going to go into much detail about micro-stamping other than to say that it's an unproven technology, and that if our state (or any other state) enacts these laws, it would effectively ban all new handguns in the state because no firearm manufacturers sell anything capable of micro-stamping. Any bill that could put an effective ban on any type of firearm is a major threat to the 2nd Ammendment, but also to our state's commerce and the livelihood of many gun shop owners.

Just this week, legislation similar to Wisconsin's Senate Bill 174 was voted down in the state of New York. It fell just two votes short of passing, and has since been "tabled". The bill is not entirely dead, and the politicians will try to lobby one another to gain those two votes so they can pass that bill. If the New York bill passes, it will definitely help the cause of the Wisconsin bill.

I e-mailed all of the senators from New York that voted against the bill to show my support for them and to encourage them to continue to vote against this legislation. I urge you to do the same and then leave a comment below letting me know you've done it. Here's what I sent them (feel free to copy, paste, and edit my e-mail below if you don't feel like coming up with your own):


Thank you for voting against S6005

Thank you for voting against New York State Senate bill S6005. I'm not a citizen of your state, but what you have done has implications across the country. My state (Wisconsin) is also considering micro-stamping legislation, and if it passes, it will most definitely hurt commerce and the livelihood of many business owners.

Your continued stance against this legislation will show the rest of the country that this unproven technology should not be relied upon at the expense of law-abiding citizens and companies.

Thank you for your time and public service.

Dan Murphy
Milwaukee, WI

For more information about micro-stamping, visit this link:

For more information about the New York legislation, visit this link:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Boxhorn ATA Summary from 6/6

As I was heading to the club yesterday morning, I happened to notice that the trees were pretty active. Not usually a good sign for an ATA shoot as shooters tend to be a little skittish when there's a stiff breeze.

By 10 AM (the scheduled start time) we only had a couple squads signed up. I had noticed at the last two of our shoots that people rolled in sort of late, so I was hoping we'd see a few of those stragglers. It turned out that there were a bunch of people that signed up late. In the end, we had 6 squads (21 entries) in the singles, 5 squads (17 entries) in the handicap, and 3 squads (13 entries) in the doubles. All in all, not a bad day considering the weather (windy with a chance for rain) and the fact that we were going up against the WTA Zone and Burlington Money Shoots.

Being that this shoot was our first one which offered trophies this year, we were dependent on a decent turnout in order to be able to award trophies. We had enough shooters to be able to give out $20 and $15 cash prizes. Not too bad for a smaller shoot.

Here are the trophy winners for each event:

Singles (21 entries)
AA: Bob Okray - 96
A: Randy Tersen - 98
B: Scott McGregor - 95
C: Alex Peterson - 89
D: Richard Forgue - 84
Lady: Mary Thanos - 89
Vet: Nick Thanos - 93 (24-20 shootoff over Mel Schulz)
Junior: Jordan Hintz - 95

Handicap (17 entries)
18-21: Chuck Kalupa and Jordan Hintz 94 (split)
22-24: Ron Wahl - 90
25-26: Randy Tersen - 89

Doubles (13 entries)
A: Dan Murphy - 96
B: Nick Thanos - 89
C: Jordan Hintz - 91
D: Chuck Kalupa - 86

Congratulations to everyone who won something, and a special congratulations go out to Scott McGregor. Scott is a recent Boxhorn-league-shooter-turned-ATA-shooter. Sunday was his second ever registered shoot, and he won class B in the singles with a 95, breaking his first ever 50-straight in the process! Here's a picture of him holding his new 50 patch.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oshkosh native sets shooting World Record

Most of you probably know that Patrick Flanigan is a trick shooter for Winchester.  You probably are also aware that he's an Oshkosh native.  I've seen him perform a few times at the Grand, and my impression of him was that he is great entertainer and obviously a fantastic shot.  You can tell from watching him that he's a perfectionist.

Well, just recently, Patrick perfected an amazing feat.  He became the first person in the world to break a stack of seven (7) hand-thrown targets from the hip, with only ONE HAND on the gun!  I've tried shooting one-handed before, and it's rather difficult.  So is shooting from the hip.  So is breaking ONE hand-thrown target.  If you put all those variables together, one figures it has to be mighty difficult to do what he did.

There are a couple videos of him achieving this world record...the first shows him breaking the targets, and the second shows him while he's shooting.  Apparently there are a couple more angles that were shot of him doing this, but they won't be able to be seen until the TV show he was working on is complete.

Congratulations to Patrick on your amazing accomplishment!  It looks pretty difficult, though, so I think I'll just stick to my trapshooting.

First video:
Second video:

Patrick's website is  He is also on Twitter ( and Facebook (!/profile.php?id=506876937&ref=ts).

Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Veterans on this Memorial Day

To all Veterans:

Thank you for placing your life on hold to ensure my safety.

Thank you for putting your life on the line to protect my freedoms.

Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice.
Please, never EVER forget the fallen.

Please support the Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.).  This fund helps give Veterans 21st-Century job training and career placement.  Go to their Facebook page and click the "Like" button.  They will donate $1 for every person who does this.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Great Place To Work...

I just came across this recent article on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website that details the top companies to work for in Southeast Wisconsin.  The company I work for was named the second best place to work for companies with greater than 500 employees.  Pretty cool.

What I thought was even cooler was that the Mayville Engineering Company (better known to shotgun enthusiasts throughout the world as MEC), was named one of the top midsized companies (between 150 and 499 employees) to work for.  This midsized engineering company based in a small town of just over 5,200 residents is the top producer of shotgun shell reloaders in the world.  They're employee owned and they have operations in Mayville, Beaver Dam, Neilsville, and Berlin, Wisconsin.

Congratulations to MEC for achieving the distinction of one of the best places to work in Southeast Wisconsin.  For more information about MEC, see their profile on the Journal Sentinel's website or visit the MEC corporate website at

I'm wanting to get back into reloading...maybe this posting will get me a sweet deal on a new 12 gauge 9000G.

I have no shame whatsoever...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Successful Shoot

Yesterday was this year's second registered ATA event at Boxhorn.  I was tickled pink to see all of the people coming out to support us.  We had a total of 68 shooters and we threw 13,500 targets!  The scores were pretty good despite the unseasonably warm and humid weather.

Dan Ewert was the top shooter in the singles and doubles, shooting a 99 and 96 respectively.  A pair of long yardage shooters had the top scores in the handicap.  Ryan Jossart (26.5 yards) and Jacob Craig (27 yards) both shot 97.  We had a lone 96 and a large number of shooters in the mid-to-low 90s.  The targets were set pretty good again...and once again, I can credit Rick for that.  Also, congratulations to Ed Fish who shot at and broke his 50,000th handicap target!!!

We didn't have any of the issues that we had at the last shoot, however, we weren't expecting to have 14 squads of singles, 11 squads of handicap, and a handful of doubles squads.  To make the day run quicker, we should have probably planned for either one of the following two things:
  • Running the events on 6 traps instead of 4 
  • Having more loaders on hand to keep the wait times to a minimum.
At Boxhorn we have 8 traps, but only 4 of them are PAT Traps (fields 2, 3, 4, & 5).  To shoot on more than 4 fields means that some people would have to shoot on a different type of trap from everyone else.  This may or may not be a big deal because the other traps throw a nice target also.  Having extra loaders would obviously speed things up a bit, which is something we will likely do for the next shoot.

The next shoot is on Sunday, June 6th.  This shoot is NOT a $15 per hundred shoot, however, we will have $24 targets with $5 from each entry going to trophies...still pretty reasonable.  June 6th is also the same day that the Southwest Zone is being held at Sauk Prairie and the Northeast Zone is being held at Fox Valley.  If you aren't planning to travel to these shoots, stop on over to Boxhorn and I guarantee you will have a great time.  To view our program, click this link:

On a side note, I personally didn't shoot particularly well.  Handicap was rough...I felt good, and I was doing a lot of things right, but I also did a lot of things wrong en route to a 73.  I guess I need to get out and practice some caps.  Doubles started off rocky again, but I finished strong for a 93.  Practice, practice, practice...I need to make time for some of that...

Monday, May 3, 2010

I like streaking...

Don't get all hot and bothered.  I won't be disrobing and commencing an awkwardly disgusting trot around the neighborhood.

I will, however, share with you some information I discovered about my streak that I mentioned in my previous post.  I was curious as to how I can put the streak into perspective for myself so I can understand whether it's a notable streak or not.  Here's what I found:
  • My last doubles score that was less than 90 was an 86 which I shot on May 12th, 2001 at Janesville.
  • That's 8 years, 11 months, and 21 days from today (5/3/2010)
  • W was in his second year of his first term in office
  • 9/11 hadn't happened yet
  • Jay Adams, the Wisconsin ATA Delegate, was still in high school
  • Kyle Wojicechowski, Wisconsin Alternate Delegate, was still in middle school
  • Since that score, I've shot 20,600 registered doubles targets
  • That's almost half of my lifetime doubles targets shot (41,550)
  • Since that score of 86, I have averaged 97.40% in doubles (including my 91 from yesterday)
  • In that time frame, I've registered 13,600 singles (98.06% average) and 16,900 handicap (88.99% average)...a total of 51,200 registered targets
  • Composite average over that period of time: 94.81%
It's interesting to see the numbers.  I feel it's important to look back at your shooting over the years to see how you're progressing.  For me, it reveals that my singles and doubles have been solid, and that if I hadn't had a couple really amazing trips out to Spanish Fork Gun Club (Utah), my handicap average over that period is pretty embarrassing.

Man, looking at this streak has made me depressed about my handicap shooting.

First ATA event of 2010 at Boxhorn

The first ATA shoot of the year at Boxhorn Gun Club is over, and by and large, it was a great success.  I was expecting to have two or three squads in both singles and handicap, and maybe one squad of doubles.  Instead, we had eight squads of singles, seven squads of handicap, and four squads of doubles.

44 shooters making 82 entries...8,200 targets shot.  I definitely didn't expect that kind of turnout for a shoot in early May in Wisconsin.  We were trying something new to get shooters to come back after a few lackluster years of registering ATA targets at the club.  We were offering $15.00 per hundred targets PLUS a free lunch and beverage with entry into any of the day's events.  This, along with the beautiful weather (including only a light breeze), must have been enough to get people to come out.

Since we weren't offering any trophies, I didn't expect there to be many category shooters.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we had a handful of junior/sub-junior shooters and another handful of ladies show up.  Many of them shot very well.  Cody Joerndt, a young shooter from Burlington, broke his first ever 25-straight as well.

Rick set the targets beautifully, and the scores showed it.  We also had many compliments from the shooters, which always makes you feel good.

We only had one significant issue the whole day, and it came in the doubles.  Both of the doubles traps were breaking lots of targets, causing some frustration for the shooters on the line and slowing down the progress of the shoot.  After some investigation, a simple changing of the arm on these Pat Traps was all that was needed to resolve the issue.  We will keep this in mind for the upcoming ATA shoots and will make sure the arms are ready to go next time.  Thanks to the shooters who struggled through all of the breaks.

High scores for the day were as follows:
  • Singles: Richard Reading (St. Francis) - 99 x 100
  • Handicap: Bryon Fennig (Wind Lake) - 98 x 100
  • Doubles: Robert Okray (Milwaukee) - 96 x 100
I only managed to find enough time to shoot the doubles.  I wasn't expecting a very stellar performance since the last time I had shot doubles was at the Breast Cancer Shoot at Boxhorn in October.  After starting off with a 7 on my first post, I was preparing myself for what could be my lowest score in a long time.  I was able to compose myself somewhat, only having a few brain farts after that.  My final score was a 91.  I managed to keep my streak alive...I haven't shot a score less than 90 in doubles since 2001.

Our next scheduled ATA shoots at Boxhorn are:
  • Sunday, May 23rd
  • Sunday, June 6th
  • Sunday, June 20th
  • Sunday, July 11th
  • Sunday, July 25th
See our program for more details:

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    Wow, two months flies by fast...

    So I've demonstrated exactly how to lose two months of your life without even realizing the time had passed.  Life is a bit chaotic right now, due to the various things pulling at Melissa and I, including (but not limited to):
    • Wedding planning
    • Registering for wedding gifts
    • Easter
    • Work
    • Planning for running ATA shoots
    • Working out just how I'm going to teach people how to improve their doubles shooting (more on this to come)
    • Driving between Oak Creek and New Berlin at least 100 times
    • Cleaning up the landscaping at our house
    • Painting the inside of the house
    • Mini bridal shower for Melissa by her family friends from the Appleton/Oshkosh area
    • Work
    • Wedding planning
    • Trying to unpack the last of our boxes from when we moved all of our stuff into our new house in September
    • Sudden development of allergies...I must be getting older
    • Wedding planning
    • Work
    • Wedding planning
    • Work
    • Urgent last-minute wisdom tooth surgery for Melissa
    • Taking care of someone after they've had their wisdom teeth out
    I haven't had much time to myself, let alone to go out and shoot at all.  Melissa and I went out about four weeks ago to teach our friends Lindsey and Troy how to shoot.  I only had time to shoot 50 singles (shot a pair of 23s), and I haven't shot since.

    I missed the Eric Weikum Memorial shoot due to Melissa's wisdom tooth surgery, which was a bummer because it was so much fun last year.  Word is that it went well and the weather held out.

    And, I've neglected my blog.  I'm sorry for that.  I'm sure people have stopped checking in, so I'm going to have to drum up support for it again.  Not sure if I have the energy for that right now, but I'll do my best to keep it updated from now on.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Remembering Eric Weikum

    The 5th Annual Eric Weikum Memorial Shoot will be held on Saturday, April 24th, at the Downers Grove Sportsmen's Club in Morris, IL.

    I attended this shoot for the first time last year, and it was such a great event. For those of you who knew Eric, it's really a great way to honor his memory.

    I became friends with Eric when he and I were both competing at the Midwestern Grand American in April of 1995. My father, Jerry, knew Eric's father, George, and they introduced us. The Midwestern Grand (which would later become the Southwest Grand) was held in El Reno, Oklahoma. If you've ever been anywhere near Oklahoma in April, you'll understand why it eventually got moved to San Antonio, Texas.

    Being a 14 year old kid from Wisconsin, I figured Oklahoma was in the South, therefore I packed mostly summer/spring clothing. No jacket. The day Dad and I arrived at the shoot it was 60 degrees, sunny, and mostly still. This weather was apparently a fluke. The next day, the high was around 30 degrees, and the wind was blowing around 20 mph. Unfortunately, Oklahoma doesn't have many forests, or even trees for that matter. The only thing slowing the wind down was the barbed wire fence running along the far edge of the shot fall zone.

    Fortunately, my father realized that I had no jacket the day before, so he made a deal with me that he would buy me a shooting jacket, and I wouldn't have to pay him back if I won a trophy at this shoot. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided that she didn't want me to win a trophy, so the next day she hit us with 40 mph winds and a pleasant combination of rain, freezing rain, and sleet. It was so nasty, the big dogs were walking off the line after shooting only 25 targets, packing up their RVs, and breaking out of Oklahoma as fast as possible.

    At the time, I was a Sub Junior standing on the 19 yard line, and I shot a rousing 68. I would later find out that the high score of the day was somewhere in the low 80s and that 68 would have hit second lewis, had I played the options. I knew my odds of winning a trophy and earning my brand new shooting jacket were slim, but they were even more slim because I knew that Eric was there. What I didn't know was that Eric's birthday was either immediately before or during the shoot, and that he was now a Junior.

    I would eventually find this out when my dad and I would join Eric and his father (along with a few other people from Northern Illinois) for dinner that night. We ate a restaurant called Applewoods, which was in Oklahoma City (it's no longer in business, but the feature of this place was that they provided you with an endless supply of mini apple fritters). A place like this was a perfect escape from the nasty weather. The adults consumed adult beverages and talked smart, and Eric and I consumed kiddie cocktails and traded trapshooting experiences and stories of being freshmen/sophomores in high school.

    The next day (the final day of the shoot), the rain and sleet subsided, the wind settled down to about 20 mph again, and the sun even started to peek through the clouds. I shot a 92 in the Budweiser Handicap, which was good enough for 3rd place in the event and my first ever earned yardage punch (a 1/2 yard to the 19.5 yard line). Also, because Eric had recently become a Junior, it allowed me to win the Sub Junior All-Around trophy (Eric won the Junior All-Around). I was the only Sub-Junior to complete the All-Around, and I felt a little ashamed. Eric was the first one to tell me that a trophy is a trophy, and it doesn't matter how you won it. Little did I know, his advice for how to feel about backing into a trophy would be something I would reflect back on many times in my life. I have unexpectedly backed into a bunch of trophies since then!

    Eric was wise beyond his years and he always lived life to the fullest. With all he endured following his diagnosis of cancer at age 19, he was always positive and upbeat about life. I truly believe that when his life was cut short at the age of 24, he had no regrets about the way he spent his time on earth. He has been, and continues to be, a role model for me throughout my life. I often wonder what he would think of the way I choose to live. I regularly find myself checking to make sure that I'm making the most out of this life that I've been blessed to continue living, because there are far too many wonderful people like Eric who don't get the opportunity to stick around as long.

    On top of being a phenomenal human being, Eric was also, in my mind, one of the best trapshooters of all time. If he were around today, he'd be the person from my era that would be contending with Harlan, Ricky, and Leo. I always felt that way, even before he was gone.

    Please consider attending the Eric Weikum Memorial Shoot on April 24th. Details can be found at the ATA website, or you can contact Eric's sister Ondrea (630-878-9403 or or Frankie Bentley (815-693-3141 or You can also visit the Downers Grove Sportsmen's Club website. Proceeds from this shoot benefit the Eric Weikum Trapshooting Hall of Fame Scholarship and the University of Chicago - Comer Children's Hospital.

    If you have memories of Eric that you'd like to share, feel free to add them in the form of a comment on this post (click the Comments link immediately below this posting), or send it to me in an e-mail at I will post your story here, unless you request otherwise.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Factory Shells @ The Grand

    It only took a few years for the powers that be to reneg (or at least seriously consider renegging) on their promise to keep costs down at the Grand. I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you that the ATA Executive Committee wants the 2010 Grand American to once again require participants to use brand spankin' new factory shells.

    The word is that it's not official yet...there may be a vote by the Delegates. Some people are claiming that this change is in response to the substantial prize available in the $100,000 donation by the'll supposedly make it more difficult for the cheaters to win it.

    I haven't validated any of the rumors floating around. There's too many. But I know one thing for sure...the ones who stand to benefit from this are the shell companies.

    You could argue that the ATA will benefit, and they might actually turn a profit on the Grand this year if they enforce this. But, they're not in the business of making money (at least not publicly). When the Grand moved from Vandalia to Sparta, the EC thought that allowing people to use whatever shells they choose would help stimulate attendance. It may have had an impact on attendance, but it had a more noticeable impact on the big three shell companies (Remington, Federal, and Winchester). The Grand was guaranteed profit for them.

    I'll probably still shoot the Grand, but I will most likely scale back on the number of events I participate in because of this. I'm interested to hear how others are going to be impacted by this. Leave a comment by clicking the comments link immediately below this post.

    Sent from my BlackBerry®

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Details about the $100,000 shoot off at the Grand

    I should have checked before I posted about this shoot off.  It now sounds like it's going to be a shoot off between the 9 winners of the various handicaps throughout the week.  You would most likely shoot from your present yardage, so if you won a handicap at the 22 yard line and got a punch to the 24.5, you would compete in the shoot off from the 24.5 yard line.

    As I said before, this shoot off has been made possible by Bill and Lee Ann Martin.  I believe it's the same Bill Martin from the Vernal Gun Club in Utah.  This is such a generous donation, I think every member of the ATA should personally thank them.  Luckily, has setup an easy way for shooters to do just that.  Just visit this link, and use the form to send them your thanks.

    A couple shooting related blogs

    I've been scouring the web and so far have only found a couple shooting related blogs:
    • The Lost Target
      •  Posts news of interest for gun enthusiasts.  The poster claims to be a registered skeet, trap, and sporting clays shooter.
    • Bad Ass Girls Club
      • A group of women who are gun and outdoor enthusiasts.
    I haven't spent much time on these blogs, but I'll follow them and let you know if there's anything interesting.

    If you know of any shooting blogs, let me know.

    The weather is breaking...I'm thinking about shooting

    In Wisconsin, we really only get about three months of good trapshooting weather.  Once those are over, I essentially go into hibernation.  I don't mind shooting in cold weather, but it just feels like so much more work to get myself put together and haul all of my stuff to the club to shoot.

    Money probably has something to do with it as well.  I don't need to tell you that trapshooting can be expensive.  For me right now, I look at it as an expense more than a hobby.  That's probably because I'm carrying a good amount of debt from college still, and my fiancee (Melissa) and I just bought a new house that really tests the limits of our current salaries.  Plus we're saving for the wedding...  I'm sure everyone has their own financial reasons for not shooting as much as they'd like.

    Eventually, I'll be at a place in life where I can devote more time to shooting.  I'd love to get back out on the circuit and make the All-American team again.  Maybe travel to some baby Grands and state shoots.  I ultimately want to be a factor again...I know I have the ability, I just need to make the time.  For now, I'll just shoot a few shoots here and there, and make my normal appearances at the state shoot and the Grand.

    Speaking of the Grand, I just read my "Post One" e-mail from the ATA and saw that Bill and Lee Ann Martin have donated $100,000 to be awarded in a shoot off this year.  Wow!  That's life changing money for most people.  Even after taxes, you're still looking at a large amount.  It sounds like one person will be chosen from each handicap event held throughout the tournament (there are nine) and they will all shoot off for the money on August 14th.  I wonder how they're going to pick the nine individuals.  From the description at the ATA website, it sounds kind of random.

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    What to expect from this blog

    Who knows? This could turn out to be a total disaster.  But at least I tried, right?  This blog will be a dumping ground for my opinions, my trapshooting experiences, and other happenings in my life.  If you don't like it, then why don't you create your own blog?

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