Grab your shooting glasses, a shell vest and don’t forget the shotgun as we see how young Oregonians prepare to reach gold in the shooting sports.
When Kate Bonn takes aim at a clay target, she must be sharp, focused and right on target.
The Portland State University student is paving the road with long hours and endless practice to reach her lifelong goal of earning Olympic Gold.
Despite blistering summer conditions, she will break 600 hundred clay targets during a daily practice session at the Hillsboro Trap and Skeet Club.
For Kate, shot gunning is second nature and success is measured when hundreds of the small speedy targets are broken into millions of pieces.
“She’s intense and methodical about everything,” noted Jay Waldron, trap shooting coach. He added, “That doesn’t happen in 10 shots or 100 shots, but after thousands and thousands which takes years of practice.”
It’s a certain tenacity that has driven the 23 year old Oregon woman to be among the best in the country. In fact, she is a current U.S. National Trap Champion.
Kate’s been at it since a young teen. Coach Waldron said he has no doubt that her commitment to the sport "will drive her to the next level.”
Coach Jay Waldron should know what it takes too – he’s a former Olympian who shined in the 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona, Spain.
Now he’s a successful coach who is introducing shooting sports to Oregon’s high school students. He said it takes someone special to shoot for Olympic Gold.
“I like to tell young people that it takes ten thousand hours of training, figure 5 to 6 years, to become a US National Champion. Add another 3-4 years to reach the international level of competition. That means constant work – not just coming out to have fun and shoot. You must work hard on your game all of the time.”
David Senter is President of International Shooting Sports of Oregon and he is proud of the state’s only Olympic trap site at the Hillsboro site.
The centerpiece of the trap range is below ground in a long concrete bunker where 15-voice activated, computer controlled throwing machines are at the ready – each machine holds 325 targets.
“The computer knows how many people (five shooters at a time) are shooting up above and how many targets they’ve shot at. Plus, it knows how many targets have been thrown so everyone gets a fair and equal distribution.”
Senter says Oregon has a long tradition with shooting sports; especially when it comes to ODFW’s Hunter Education classes that get youngsters on the right path with proper firearm handling and safety procedures.
In addition, ODFW offers the unique “Becoming an Outdoors Woman” classes that include shooting sports as a part of the annual menu of varied activities.
Women who are curious about shot gunning get an introductory lesson through the BOW hunting program that’s followed by a field hunt that teaches more about the outdoor experience and shotgun safety.
Senter would like to see more people – especially youngsters - consider shooting sports like trap and skeet. He added that Oregon is home to scores of trap and skeet shooting clubs that provide instruction and the basics to get you started.
“It’s like video games on steroids,” noted the longtime shooting instructor. “It’s fast, targets are breaking, lots of activity and that’s right up their alley. They love that kind of stuff.”
Senter has coached Bonn and currently coaches 13-year-old Micah Norman from Oregon City. She started shot gunning just a year ago and said she has a blast each time she steps on the range.
“Everything’s fun,” noted Norman. “When I come out here to practice or travel to compete – it’s exciting to watch the target break – that’s the absolute best.”
Kate Bonn knows it’s a long road to reach the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but she’s determined and dedicated and said the journey is part of the prize.
“I enjoy the competition and the intensity of it all. While many might not call it fun, I do and these next four years are exciting to think about. I’m going to make the Olympics a real possibility.”