Local trap club qualifies for U.S. Youth Clay Shooting Championships

Safety, fun and camaraderie describe sport
By: Jim Linsdau/NewsMessenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Located about 10 miles northeast of Lincoln just across the Sutter County Line is Coon Creek Trap and Skeet Club where 21 young, local athletes are not only learning the discipline and respect necessary to participate in the sport of shooting but are becoming outstanding marksmen as well. Team Coon Creek was scheduled to compete in the U.S. Youth Clay Shooting Championships in Las Vegas, Nev., July 18-21. Team Coon Creek placed second in three divisions at the state meet, the Intermediate Entry, Junior Gun Club and Junior Gun Club for the entire season, which consisted of six meets. There were more than 500 athletes participating at state and 13-14 teams per competition. ?I have pretty high expectation for the team,? said head coach Jon Roth.?This team has a lot of potential to do well.? The team is made up of three freshmen, an eighth grader and a seventh grader. Team Coon Creek was recently formed and is a member of the California Youth Shooting Sports Association. The club is open to boys and girls ranging from fifth grade to seniors in high school. Other CYSSA groups that use the facility are high school teams from Del Oro, Woodcreek and Lincoln. Coon Creek Trap and Skeet is owned by George and Joan Ahart. George Ahart is a graduate of Lincoln High School and was recently inducted into the Pacific International Trapshooting Association?s Hall of Fame. Roth learned to shoot at an early age when his father first took him hunting. Although he has a passion for the sport of shooting, he said he spends so much time coaching he seldom gets time to shoot. ?My message would be (to) get your kids involved in the shooting sports,? Roth said is what he?d like to tell the community. ?We have over 700 kids in the overall league for CYSSA and we?ve never had one accident; so, it?s a very safe sport.? Roth said the No. 1 goal of the club is gun safety. But the underlying theme is the camaraderie that develops among the athletes. Although some of the members are drawn by friends, many join out of curiosity and find they really enjoy it. Lincoln?s Austin Swett, a freshman at Lincoln High, tried the sport on the recommendation of a friend he with whom he goes duck hunting. In just his first year he found he enjoyed trap shooting so much he thinks he might like to try it in college, and if good enough, try out for the Olympics. ?It?s sport shooting and everyone likes each other,? Swett said. ?No one?s having rivalries or anything. Trap shooting is a lot different than hunting.? Swett, who wrestles and plays football as well, thinks in his senior year he might try out for the Fighting Zebras team. Rocklin?s Dimitri Radoycis is one of the five athletes who qualified for the national championships. About four years ago, his parents took him shooting for his birthday and told him if he liked the sport he could join Team Coon Creek. A volleyball player as well, Radoycis soon decided to add trap shooting to his athletic endeavors. ?It took two to three years to get good,? Radoycis said of making the club?s national team. ?The first thing was slowing down as I was shooting really fast. I?m content being a shooter.? Roth, whose son is the youngest member of the team, said the mistake most novice shooters make is lifting their head off the gun too soon. He said it?s a natural instinct to try and look up to see if the target was hit. ?What they are trying to do is peek at the target to see if they hit it,? Roth said, ?which causes the barrel to move and miss the target.? Roth said he spends a lot of time with his athletes getting them to keep their cheek on the butt of the gun until well after the shot. Roth said at the beginning of the season he brings a watermelon to demonstrate why so much stress is put on gun safety. He said after he shoots the watermelon each member has a vivid picture of why the club and CYSSA stress safety as much as they do. ?We focus very heavily on safety and the kids quickly learn how to respect the gun and what a gun can do,? Roth said. ?We?ll ? shoot a watermelon to show the impact that it would have if they were for a split second careless with a gun. We spend a lot of time on safety and that quickly develops into respect.? The respect and safe shooting is evident at Coon Creek. The Team Coon Creek going to the national competition put on a shooting demonstration that not only reflected gun safety but the skills they?ve developed as well. ?There?s a lot of mental preparation. You can?t break down in the middle of a round because that would affect your scores,? said Lincoln?s Ryan Woodard, who did not make the team. ?I like shooting as a team. I find the competitiveness makes me strive to be better.? Ryan Woodard and his brother Nathan Woodard were introduced to Team Coon Club by their father. They both enjoyed their first experience and now intend to continue at least through high school. Nathan Woodard said if his skills develop he might even try trap shooting after he graduates. Roth explained why he thought his athletes developed such close ties with one another. ?It?s really a legacy, I think, sort of our founding traditions comes from the outdoors and the sporting games,? Roth said. ?So, hopefully parents won?t be afraid to get their kids involved. It builds a bond amongst themselves, amongst the teammates. It?s great for families to get involved.? Coon Creek Trap and Skeet is located on Waltz Road. For more information go online to, or