There were a lot of pigeons shot out of the air in Delta the weekend of June 15 and 16-. Yet no one is going to be calling PETA anytime soon because the pigeons were of the clay persuasion.
Craig residents Riley Sovine and Dick King shot their fair share of targets, winning their respective classes in the state singles trap shooting championships at the Delta Trap Club.
"I told everybody I was going to win before I left," Sovine said. "The last three months I was shooting over my head and I thought I was peaking at the right time."
"I've won other trophies but never a state one," King said. "This is about the best I've ever done."
For the state competition each shooter receives a ranking by the American Trapshooting Association. That ranking is determined by the shooter's average in the competitor's last 500 targets. The top averages earn a spot in the AA class. King competed in the AA class at state and Sovine in the C class.
"At one point I was in class A but I guess I've finally found my level at C," Sovine said. "I've been waiting for this (win) for 30 years."
For the competition there were two preliminary rounds of 100 traps for each shooter. In the better classes, shooters must hit all 200 traps to move on to the final shoot-off.
"These days you have to hit them all to do well," said King.
After the first two rounds, Sovine said he was not sure whether he had qualified for the finals, "I knew I had shot well, but I was surprised when they called me back for a shoot-off."
Sovine ended up not even needing to have a shoot-off because his competitor was from Pennsylvania, so the Coloradoan won the state title and visitor from the Keystone State went home with the out-of-state trophy for class C.
After shooting down all 200 pigeons in the preliminary rounds, King had plenty of shooting left. After the first round of 200, the remaining competitors take rounds of 25. In the third round of 25, King missed the 14th pigeon.
"Eventually everyone flinches with the wind or with the hand-eye coordination," King said. "My flinch was on the 264th pigeon. We always remember exactly what shot it was."
One of the other marksmen also missed, which allowed the overall championship to the shooter who was perfect through 275.
King and the other pigeon buster who missed kept shooting to decide who would be overall runner up (the shooter who won) and the AA champ. After four more rounds neither of the men had missed and they decided to end the show down with a coin toss. King lost the toss and after hitting 374 of 375 targets went home with the AA champion trophy.
Sovine and King are active members of the Craig Shooting Club and travel nearly every weekend to compete.
"The best thing about shooting is the people," Sovine said. "I stopped for 15 years and when I came back everybody still recognized me like it was yesterday."
King expressed the same gratitude toward his fellow shooters: "We are just like a big family. You become great friends with everybody when you spend so many weekends with them."