God's Home column: It's fun to make noise and break things

11:06 AM, Jul. 24, 2013  |  Comments
Steve Raap
Steve Raap
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Old Guy and Still-Young Bride took a self-guided tour of the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association's new Homegounds in Rome this past Sunday, during their 114th annual Shoot. We came away mightily impressed.

Entering what the WTA is calling its Homegrounds, we passed several rows of perfectly spaced pine trees - the leftovers of a once great stand of pulping timber. Beyond that, a clearing came into view, where RVs were lined up side by side and in multiple rows along the north side of the pines. Many, if not all, were hooked up to electricity and water, which, it seems, were temporarily provided until permanent sites can be developed.

Parking spots for cars were a little hard to come by, but we managed to squeeze our Corolla into a spot between two rather large pickup trucks. Such pickups appear to be the vehicle of choice for Wisconsin's trapshooting aficionados, for there were Ford, Chevy and Dodge trucks everywhere.

Still-Young Bride followed Old Guy into the fray, which is to say we walked among the many vendor tents and trailers, each one selling goods and services to the captive and eager audience that this event attracts. One of those attendees was Connie Riemer, a co-worker of Still-Young Bride's. But in her shooting cap and protective glasses, she wasn't immediately recognizable to Still-Young Bride, so some minor embarrassment ensued when Connie walked up and said, "Hi, Linda!" Fortunately for us, Connie got a kick out of Still-Young Bride's short-term befuddlement, and she invited us to sit on an observation bench some 20 feet behind the trapshooting action.

From this vantage point, we watched as Connie and her four trapshooting team members lined up side by side (with about five feet between each other), each holding their prized shotguns. (We later learned that it is not unusual for prices on these guns to run upwards of 10-, 20-, even 30-thousand dollars each!)

The shooters were ready to begin their portion of the competition, lined up behind one of the dozens of specially built traphouses. It's from this low-slung, bunker-like enclosure that the circular clay "pigeons" are flung into the air one at a time at the voice command of the shooter. The voice command is electronically transmitted via microphone to a launching machine inside the traphouse, which flings the pigeon (in a direction that varies which each launch) a split second after the shooter has voiced their command to do so. Each of the five shooters rotate positions after shooting five shots in rotation with the other shooters from each position, until each shooter has shot 25 individual shotgun cartridges.

In order for a shot to count, the clay pigeons (which are highlighted on top with a wide center of orange paint for visibility) must be hit by some portion of the lead shot emanating from the cartridge. Just grazing the brown edge of the pigeon won't do, however. The way I understand it, as long as a portion of the orange mark can be seen to split apart from the main pigeon, the shot will count. And for Connie's team, that counts a lot, for nearly every pigeon was hit - most dead-on center. These are experienced marksmen and women, I'm telling you.

Fortunately, the noise of the shooting cannot be heard beyond the expansive confines of the association grounds. And the clay pigeon remains are bio-degradable. Even the lead shot remains will be recycled by special machines that scoop up and separate the shot from the dirt. Also fortunately for the town of Rome, this facility will be expanded in the future to include permanent buildings, permanent campsites and even a hotel.

So, there you have it. Old Guy's limited experience at the Wisconsin Trapshooter's Association event. This is the kind of development a recreational community like ours needs to support.

Old Guy's weight last column: 221 pounds. This week: 223 pounds. Total loss since Feb. 19, 2012: 8 pounds. (It ain't the heat, it's the humidity!)

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