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<B>Leslie Barnard, captain of the UVM trap shooting club, takes a shot at a clay pigeon./Derek Carson</B>
Leslie Barnard, captain of the UVM trap shooting club, takes a shot at a clay pigeon./Derek Carson
Leslie Barnard, captain of the UVM trap shooting club, takes a shot at a clay pigeon./Derek Carson

SHAFTSBURY -- Hale Mountain Fish and Game Club hosted a friendly trap shooting competition between their members and the University of Vermont's trap shooting club on Sunday.

The annual event, which is now in its second year, was the brainchild of UVM trap club captain and Manchester resident Leslie Barnard, who often shoots at Hale Mountain with her parents, according to Hale Mountain Club President Paul Williams. Both of her parents were shooting as well, representing Hale Mountain.

17 shooters participated in the competition, which involved four rounds of 25 shots each. The range was divided into five stations. Each shooter would take five shots from each station, and then rotate to the next station to their right. To tally the final score, only the top five shooters from each team were counted.

"You can tell this is a fun event because people are laughing and talking between rounds," Williams pointed out, "At a competition there would be nothing, silence."

In the end, the Hale Mountain club members defeated the team from UVM 457-436. However, Greg Roy of Rutland, representing UVM, tied Charlie Stewart, the Fish and Game Club's treasurer, atop the leaderboard with 97 hits out of 100. Williams scored 90, good for one of the top spots on his team, but was disappointed with his result. "In competitions," he said, "You've got to make 25 out of 25. They say, if you miss the first bird, the rest is practice."

Leslie struggled in the first two rounds, putting up scores of 22 and 18, but came back in the second half to post a final score of 85. Her father, Doug Barnard was one of the top five scorers for Hale Mountain, with 84.

Williams did note that many of UVM's "A-Team" could not attend the event because of classwork. While the weather was drizzling for the duration of the shooting, Williams said it compared favorably to the year before, when the event had been held in December. "It was snowing, blowing... real nasty," said Williams.

The clay pigeons that were being used as targets typically cost $4 for 25 at the club, but Hale Mountain footed the bill for the targets for this event. The club uses a voice-activated system, in which the shooter speaks into a microphone, which then causes a pigeon to be launched from the trap. The trap uses a hydraulic system that fires the target out in a random direction, but always at the same height. The pigeons that are used by Hale Mountain are fully biodegradable, according to Williams.

Membership has been down at the club, said Williams, as not many can afford the rising cost of ammunition. Club members come from all walks of life, he said, from doctors and lawyers to construction workers. Yearly membership costs $100 for those between ages 17 and 65. The rate for over 65 is $50, and under 17 is $35. Military personnel on active duty are eligible for free membership.

Trap shooting is also not as much of a man's game as many would believe, said Williams. "Women are quite often better at this than men are," he said.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB