If you are one of the many people in our Valley who enjoy the shooting sports, you are probably livid at all the stories of gang shootings and senseless violence hitting the front pages these days.
These events are horrible for those affected directly, but they are hard on sport shooters, as well.
Every time some demented soul picks up a misnomered assault rifle and blazes away at helpless people, we millions of Americans who own and use firearms for the sporting opportunities we enjoy find our rights diminished and our reputations slandered.
A good many people believe, with good reason, that the news media only care for headlines and refuse to dive deeply into the ills of society which spawn these miscreants in the first place.
Perhaps even worse, these same media pundits can’t seem to ever find their way to a proper shooting range. Apparently they are afraid of finding and talking to some of the millions of honest Americans safely engaged in our sport shooting tradition that dates from the earliest arrival of European immigrants in the 1600s.
Enter here a young man among us who really exemplifies what participation in a youth shooting program will do to make your teenager into a better person and even into a better American.
Zane Carver is a 15-year-old entering his sophomore year at College Place High School.
Carver is the son of Kris and Zana Carver of College Place. He’s been shooting trap at Walla Walla Gun Club since he was 10, and has become a standout in a sport that is increasingly popular with women, youngsters, and families.
As you may know, trap shooting is a shotgun sport that challenges participants to hit four-inch clay discs tossed by a machine from multiple angles at 42 mph.
What you may not know is that the sport is incredibly popular these days across the country, and is increasingly so with women and girls, who compete right along with the men and make trap shooting a real family sport for multiple generations. (Check out the photo above.)
The ultimate trapshooting challenge of the year is the Grand American Handicap held each summer at Sparta, Il. It’s way more than a small-town social gathering. This month saw more than 5,000 participants, and about that many lookers-on, take to the trap fields for 11 days of shooting.
Twenty-seven hundred targets were available, shot as 27 100-target events.
Most days consisted of three events, or 300 targets. The shooting began at 9 a.m., and concluded late in the summer twilight.
With five shooters comprising a squad, that means there are somewhere around 1,000 squads each day.
The trap fields are lined up for 3.5 miles.
Just finding your venue at the right time and place is a challenge.
Add to that finding a place to park, then lugging your heavy shell bag and trap gun over the course to get to the right field, which takes the wind out of many a sail before the first shot is even fired.
That makes Carver’s achievement all the more remarkable.
His average for all events was an incredible 91.67 percent. His highest score was 98x100 and his lowest was 82x100.
In between, there were a lot of 94s, 95s and 96s.
At Walla Walla Gun Club, we are very proud of Carver for his great achievements.
But the story doesn’t end there, it is just beginning.
Remarkably, over the USA, there are literally hundreds of thousands of young people from junior highs, high schools and colleges competing in all kinds of shooting events using shotgun, rifle and pistol.
Of course, if it weren’t for pundits such as this writer eking out an occasional column in the local newspaper, very few people would know anything about this great American story.
Instead, we are feted to fetid flashes of nightly news too often recounting how some very troubled young man with pure evil on his mind disgraced humankind by shooting unarmed, innocent people in a public place, almost all of the venues chosen because they are plastered with signs that read “Gun Free Zone.”
Bottom line is that the next time you read or hear about crooks and crazies filling your mind with horror, scrub it away by remembering that for every nut case, there are millions of Zane Carvers out there in every state of the union, of every age, sex, race, creed and political persuasion, grown and growing up to be honest, hard-working everyday Americans.
That’s a story worth telling and remembering.