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Will Elliott’s Outdoors: Heather Powers shows promise at Camp Perry pistol meet

Young shooters are scoring big, both as competitors and participants in the enjoyment felt while improving their accuracy skills on the range and in the field.

An Oct. 18, 2015, column featured Heather Powers, 16, with her dad and mom, Rick and Jackie Powers, shooting at the Boston Valley Conservation Society range.

Mom had some physical issues with her shooting, but dad, realizing Heather’s interest and skills, kept up his shooting participation, scored high in competitions and won some. But he focuses mainly on Heather’s development. After Heather’s remarkable finish July 12 through 16 at Camp Perry National Pistol Championships, Rick Powers said, “She’s coming along slowly but surely.”

Most shooters who enter a national shooting contest would love to finish in first place after just three years of shooting pressure. What dad meant was that Heather is developing her skills at the right rate, learning how to deal with the pressures of big competitions, everything from four long days of shooting for a possible ideal score of 2,700, to the weather.

“The weather is always a factor at Camp Perry,” Heather said, sounding like a veteran after completing her third year in the nationals. “At least this time we didn’t have any rain.”

The Camp Perry range is affected by Lake Erie breezes. Most shots are moved by winds more than shooters encounter on their home ranges.

The pressure for Heather came from the start, with a field of 700 shooters from around the country competing for top scores. Heather had previously competed in Marksman Division shoots as a junior, but this year she entered in the Sharpshooter Division.

Total scores include the number of bull’s-eyes (X hits) recorded. Heather finished with a score of 2,322 and 30X. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association director Steve Kraynak announced in an email that her score won the 2016 B.G. Dwyer Award as top New York State shooter in the Sharpshooter Division.

The rain that did not fall at Camp Perry arrived during a New York State Outdoor Pistol League match on July 31 at the Ten-X outdoor range in Newstead. At that match, director Russ Rizzo presented Heather with her Lucite award.

After the league shoot and a heavy rainfall, Heather entered a Civilian Marksman Program .22-caliber competition against nine veteran shooters and finished with a top score of 285 of a possible 300. The next highest total was 269.

Heather looks forward to her senior year at East Aurora High School and a shot or two at total perfect scores.

Troop Trailer shoots

Boy Scout Troop 59 volunteers in Hamburg offer youths opportunities to shoot perfect scores at sporting clays with the complete refurbishing of a shooting trailer now used for the Troop 59 Clays Shooting Trailer Challenge at the Hamburg Rod & Gun Club.

The only scouts trailer in the world designed for shooting sporting clays has been set up on the last weekend of each month.

Unlike trap or skeet that sends out clay bird targets at fixed angles and distances, a sporting clays shoot is set up to simulate shots hunters would take at various field and waterfowl targets. “This two-story trailer is set up to shoot one-and-one or two-at-once targets,” said coordinator Don Lombardo. The new system was introduced for its first round June 25 and 26.

Support for this trailer came from many sources, including the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the WNY Chapter of Safari Club International and the Shooters Committee on Political Education chapter and statewide organization.

The outcome has been impressive, according to volunteer Wayne Dieter. The regular shoots for both individual shooters and groups that have formed teams. Dieter noted that proceeds go to scouting programs for camps and other teaching and learning skills.

The trailer challenges provide kids with opportunities to learn better shooting techniques while improving their skills and scores, plus practice safe shooting conduct while handling firearms at all stages of these challenge shoots.

The next Troop 59 Clays Shooting Trailer Challenge will go from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 27 and 28. For more details about youth participation and shooting trailer functions, check with Wayne Dieter at 225-8424 or Don Lombardo at 824-3951.


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