(Posted March 3, 2016)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
You get into your stance. You call for the target. It flies out of the box. You shoot.
That’s trapshooting in a nutshell. But as Marie Dradt, coach of the Madison County Bead Deamons, a trapshooting team for youths in grades 3-12, tells it, it’s much more. It’s about honing hand-eye coordination, respecting safety, and knowing your equipment—and it’s about fun.
“The kids love it, especially when they start breaking targets… They turn around and smile, and that’s when you know they’re hooked,” Dradt said.
The late Dave Wilson, a member of the Ohio Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame, started the team several years ago as a way to get young people interested in the sport. Dradt, a London resident who shoots sporting clays, took over as coach five years ago and is now joined by assistant coach Scott Curry of West Jefferson. Both are National Rifle Association certified coaches. Both are excited about the start of another season.
“We have about 15 kids right now, and we have room to grow,” Dradt said, noting that participants come from all over Madison and Pickaway counties.
The Bead Deamons practice weekly, March through June, at the Madison County Fish & Game Association near Madison Lake. The team is open to all skill levels, from youths experienced in hunting and target shooting to those who have never picked up a gun.
At practice, members typically shoot two rounds of 25 targets each. It takes approximately 20 minutes to shoot a round. The Fish & Game Club supplies the firearms and eye and ear protection.
The cost is $18 per practice to cover targets and ammunition. Members interested in competitions must purchase memberships in the Ohio State Trapshooting Association and the Scholastic Clay Target Program. The two memberships total just under $50 per year. Members also are responsible for their contest entry fees, which can be up to $50 each. Funding from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Midway USA Foundation, and local businesses cover contest ammunition.
The Bead Deamons compete in six invitationals each season, including regionals and state. Contests take place at trap clubs in Harrison, Middletown and Marengo. This year, the Marengo facility will host the nationals. To qualify, youth shooters must compete in their state’s state competition.
“It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity for kids to go to nationals who otherwise wouldn’t because of the competition’s location,” Dradt said.
One Bead Deamon who knows what it’s like to compete at all levels—and do well—is Gunner Hall. The 16-year-old Westfall sophomore was the 2015 Ohio State Youth Varsity Champion. Twice last year, he shot a perfect score of 200 in competition. And for the past two years, his five-person squad placed first in their category at nationals.
“About 1,000 competitive shooters from around the United States come to nationals. It’s amazing to see how many people like the sport and like to shoot,” Hall said. “I’m getting to know a lot of people by doing this.”
Hall has been a Bead Deamons member for the past four years. He found out about the team through a friend who invited him to give it a try. He’d been shooting paper tar-gets just for fun, but the clay targets lit his competitive fire.
“I loved it,” he said. “It’s more chal-lenging. You can’t anticipate where the target will go. You really have to focus.”
Hall is taking his love of the sport to another level. His goal is to make the United States trapshooting Olympics team in the next two to three years. The past two summers, he has attended an Olympics development camp in Colorado Springs.
While he takes the sport seriously, he said the bottom line is about having fun with other people who like the same sport. He encourages other youths to join him and and his fellow Bead Deamons.
“Come out and see what it’s all about,” he said.
For more information about the Madison County Bead Deamons Trapshooting Team, contact: Coach Marie Dradt at (740) 852-3957 or email@example.com.