Shooters gobble up chance at prizes at Gun Club fundraiser

Participants young and old line up for the turkey shoot Saturday morning at the Walla Walla Gun Club.

Participants young and old line up for the turkey shoot Saturday morning at the Walla Walla Gun Club. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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Participants young and old line up for the turkey shoot Saturday morning at the Walla Walla Gun Club.

WALLA WALLA — About 40 trap shooters took part in the annual Walla Walla Gun Club turkey shoot fundraiser Saturday morning.

For the first time this year, members of the newly formed Scholastic Clay Target Program youth team had their chance to bring home a turkey. And every contestant, young or old, got to take home a bird.

“Even if you lose, you still get a turkey,” gun club board member Richard Berrier said.

It turns out that meat, especially turkey and sausage, is a favorite prize handed out at Walla Walla Gun Club contest shoots. But so is money.

Berrier said one of the more popular contests for the club is $10 shoot night every Thursday from April through November, where contestants who win take home the pool for that night.

The cost to enter the turkey shoot was $30 and included six Annie Oakley-style shootouts. So in theory a shooter could win six turkeys.

“I think the best I have ever done is three,” Berrier said. He added he couldn’t recall anyone who won all six. But the club started in 1892, so it is possible somebody got all six.

“All right everybody line up for the Annie Oakley shoot,” Treasurer Bob Bloch called out to start the contest for the first turkey, at which point 10 shooters lined up side-by-side.

How the contest works is by process of elimination. The first shooter in the lineup gets a chance to hit a flying clay target. If he misses, the second shooter gets a chance to hit the same flying clay in midair. If the second shooter hits the clay, the first shooter is eliminated and the shooting ends.

If the second shooter misses then the third shooter gets a chance to hit the same clay. If he hits, the first and second shooter are eliminated. But if the third shooter misses, the clay target hits the ground and all three shooters will eventually get another chance.

The maximum number of shooters in a row is three. After the first three in line have taken their shots, the second person in line starts the next round, that is as long as he hasn’t been eliminated.

Shooting in threes continues until all 10 shooters have had a chance and then some. The last two shooters who have not been eliminated win turkeys.

“Most of these guys out here are professional shooters so they are out here to have fun,” youth team coach Gene Gossett said. And he noted while the older shooters often take only one turkey — though they may have won more — the youths are more apt to take home everything they win. And that is how it was for Gossett when he was 14.

“My dad brought me out with my brand new little 20-gauge,” Gossett said. “I had three turkeys and a ham. So I was riding real high at the end of the day.”

Gossett said he was still riding high when he saw his turkey served for Thanksgiving that year.

While youths have been encouraged to participate in trap and skeet shooting, this is the first year the club has had a youth team affiliated with the national Scholastic Clay Target Program.

The program started in October with 16 youths, and for the first season all training and ammunition fees were paid for by a donor from the club so the youths could shoot for free.

“This is a fairly expensive sport,” Gossett said, adding that the goal for next year is to continue offsetting the costs for youths.

The Walla Walla Gun Club Youth Trap and Skeet Team is open for middle and high school aged students.

To learn more, go online to wwgc.homestead.com.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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