Wednesday Aug 05 2009
Trapshooter inducted to hall of fame
By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
George Ahart, who started trapshooting in 1978, has done quite well at it. The 73-year-old Lincoln resident just received confirmation that he is one of the newest inductees into the Pacific International Trapshooting Association (PITA) Hall of Fame. Ahart was inducted to the hall of fame based on his service to Pacific International Trapshooting Association and the sport of trapshooting. “It’s kind of a national happening,” Ahart said. “I didn’t realize I was going to be inducted.” Ahart’s service to the association includes more than 20 years’ service on the executive board, including holding the title of president in 1990 and 1991. “In 1991, George was the driving force in getting the first woman on the Executive Committee, and, in 1992, his efforts elected Pat Zeller, the first woman president of the PITA,” according to the hall of fame induction notice. Ahart founded the Youth Education Shooting Program in 2001, which teaches youths gun safety, shooting skills and sportsmanship. Pacific International Trapshooting Association donates scholarships to youth. One of the recipients later participated in the Olympics, Ahart said. The Pacific International Trapshooting Association’s Hall of Fame was established in 1995. The association was formed in 1932. Ahart is the 48th inductee. “The hall of fame is like Cooperstown in Baseball,” Ahart said. “Half of them are dead. It was a neat deal to get in while I’m still alive.” Although inducted into the hall of fame for his service, Ahart is no slouch when it comes to shooting, having fired at about 435,000 targets in competition. “I want to make it to 500,000 before I croak,” Ahart said. His favorite firearm is his Perazzi shotgun, made in Italy. Ahart said his favorite aspect of trapshooting is the camaraderie with his fellow shooters. Founding the Coon Creek Trap And Skeet Club at 5393 Waltz Road, Ahart runs it with his wife, Joan, and interacts daily with shooters. A lifelong Lincoln resident, Ahart said his family dates back much further. “My family came out here in 1854,” Ahart said, adding that several downtown buildings were originally houses belonging to the Aharts. Ahart attended Sheridan Elementary School as one of eight students before eventually graduating from Lincoln High School in 1953. In 1955, he graduated from Sierra College. Ahart opened a sporting-goods store in Citrus Heights before deciding to have his own trap and skeet club. The most rewarding aspect of owning the Coon Creek Trap and Skeet Club, Ahart said, is having the local youth teams practice and compete there. “We have the Del Oro and Woodcreek and Lincoln High School teams come out here,” Ahart said. According to Sue Brewer, executive secretary of Pacific International Trapshooting Association, Ahart is always willing to help. “He helps other clubs, provides trap machines, his expertise and knows how to repair everything,” Brewer said. During the state championship shoot in Hawaii three years ago, Ahart gained no small measure of fame for donning a grass skirt and coconut bra. Despite the clowning around, Ahart spent a great deal of his time on the tropical island helping the local trap club repair its machines instead of lazing on the beach. “He’s just known all over,” Brewer said. “He’s just a great guy. He’ll do anything for anybody.” One of Ahart’s recent contributions to charity was when, in November, he jumped out of an airplane to raise money for the Toys For Tots program in Lincoln. On another occasion several years ago, according to Brewer, Ahart had been having a bad year injury-wise. As a joke, some friends dressed him up in kneepads, a helmet and other protective gear. When friends razzed Ahart over his appearance, Ahart managed to generate $500 for charity by shooting in the getup Brewer described as gaudy. “Kind and generous – he is that,” said Charles Redding, a friend of Ahart’s since 1984. Redding’s son participated in the youth program and has competed all over the world, including for the U.S. Olympic team. “George’s youth program is probably one of the finest in the nation,” Redding said. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.