I’ll admit, I struggled writing this article. I wanted to provide an unbiased opinion of the shoot and the club to convince those who’ve never been to come next year. But I can’t do that. I can’t be unbiased, for several reasons. One, I grew up going to Tucson Trap and Skeet; it’s my home club and will always hold a special place in my heart. Two, the 40th Old Pueblo Shoot organizer, Larry Blount, is my dad; of course I’m going to think he did a wonderful job. And three, I happened to win the shoot this year with a personal best score, so naturally it was a great shoot. Having said all that, I’m going to provide you my opinion, and you be the judge on whether it convinces you to come next year. I’ll definitely be there.
In case it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the TT&S club, there are a multitude of changes that have happened in the past couple years. It has expanded and grown in all ways: more skeet and trap fields, more sporting clays courses, updated target machines, more RV facilities, and improvements to the grounds which were exceptionally clean since the walls and houses were recently power washed. The referees and maintenance crews did an exceptional job before and during the shoot. Every time I come back, there’s something new. It truly is an outstanding place for shooting.
Early spring is an undeniably beautiful time of year in Tucson and the TT&S club is an oasis from the foul weather across the country. The Old Pueblo Open was uniquely situated to allow for a shoot-to-shoot three week tour of the southwest. Many of the shooters traveled from the Copper State Open hosted by Clay Busters of Arizona in Phoenix, AZ at the end of February, down to Tucson for the Old Pueblo Midweek and the Main, and finished with the Comstock Open hosted by the Vegas Skeet Association the weekend after the Old Pueblo. That’s a lot of targets!
This year was the special 40th anniversary of the Old Pueblo Open, and shoot organizers wanted to make it grand. Extra prizes were donated, including shoot bags donated by Pacific Sporting Arms and once-in-a-lifetime money clips by Briley Manufacturing. A generous donation by John Waters paid for the all junior entry fees for the 28 gauge event. And to top it all, extra money was added thanks to Bill and LeAnn Martin, to the tune of $10,000 spread across all classes and events!
A relatively chill clear Friday morning greeted shooters as they headed to their fields for the first two events of the Old Pueblo. Shooters that participated in the Midweek were all tuned up, and those that arrived for the Main were fresh and ready to go. The 28ga prelim event was won by Lauren Downum with a perfect 100. As the day continued the sun warmed backs and a slight breeze cooled the 88 degree heat. In the Doubles event, Dan Jones tied Michael Peterson and James Decker but bested them in a shoot off for Doubles Champion. Friday night’s social event boasted free hors d’oeuvres and a social hour in the clubhouse.
Another beautiful sunny day with a cooling breeze allowed shooters to post good scores for the Saturday 12ga and 20ga events. A 100 straight shoot off between Tanner Bissel, Rick Curtin, Billy Williams and Joe Witty led to collegiate shooter Tanner becoming 12ga Champion. Curtin and Williams were RU and 3rd respectively. The 20 ga event culminated in another 100 straight tie with Dan Jones, Emily Steinbaugh, and John Imbt battling for the championship. Dan Jones became 20 ga champion.
Saturday night also hosted an Old Pueblo tradition of the Junior Shootoff. Juniors were handicapped based upon their averages in 12ga or 20ga, depending on what they decided to shoot in the shootoff. All juniors were invited to participate; the prize money of $500 extended to 5th place. During the shootoff another generous donation extended the prize money to 6th place! We had a full score of juniors participate, and they rocked! What a great opportunity for new shooters to get experience in a shootoff with the more experienced juniors. They banded together and supported each other, cheering and commiserating as each shooter succeeded or was eliminated. That’s the future of our sport.
Dinner on Saturday was another tradition of steaks cooked on the large outdoor fire pit grill accompanied by baked beans, rolls, and salad, but the cheesecake was my favorite. During dinner several folks were honored. Ron Wilson started the Old Pueblo shoot 40 years ago, so to commemorate the anniversary and his contributions over the years, an engraved bottle of spirits was presented to him. The Tucson club has another tradition of handing out once-in-a-lifetime sterling silver thunder-bird pins for those shooters who shoot a 100 straight at the Tucson club for the first time. This does not have to be your first 100 straight ever, just your first at the Tucson club. I and five other shooters received our thunder-bird pins.
Sunday was cooler for the 28 ga event with afternoon breezes just in time for the .410 event. Even so, good scores were posted by those who persevered with the lone 100 by John Imbt taking the 28ga event championship. Robert Lopez and Billy Williams shot off with scores of 98 for the .410 event championship with Robert prevailing.
The shoot concluded with an awards ceremony in which the Pacific Sporting Arms shoot bags and Briley money clips were presented to the HOA champions. Kevin Kercheval won the HOA D/E class bag, Thomas Phelps HOA C, Mackinzee Swetman HOA B, Frank Demarco HOA A, Dan Jones HOA AA , Lauren Downum HOA 3rd Place, Tanner Bissel Runner Up, and Emily Steinbaugh the HOA Champion bag. It was a poetic moment for me to receive the 40th Old Pueblo Open HOA champ bag and money clip from my dad who worked so hard to make this shoot great.