The 88th annual New York State Skeet Championships were held at Rochester-Brooks Gun Club in Rush, NY the weekend of August 28-30.
In a year forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, where only a handful of tournaments were held in New York, 115 shooters participated in this year’s competition. An excellent turnout, only a few entries shy of 2019, especially considering that Canadian shooters, who usually cross the border to come to New York for tournaments, were still in lockdown north of the border.
However, the New York State Shoot is open for titles and purses, and in a year where shooters are going where the targets are, the loss of Canadians was made up by the gain in shooters from neighboring states like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
The first event of the weekend is always the Referee Championship, with Mark Holthouse winning that medal with a score of 96×100.
Trading guns and ammo for buttons to push, the referees then took to the field for the first flight of doubles on Friday afternoon. The weather was in a cooperative mood, and mechanic Roger Brooks had fine-tuned the Laporte machines, resulting in perfect scores from J.D. Fowler, Dave Ballerini and Dennis Lehman. Doubles shoot-offs are always interesting, and sometimes just a couple of stations will determine the results. In this case, local favorite J.D. Fowler broke two pairs, Lehman settled for runner-up, and Ballerini missed on the first station to win third. 99s shot off for New York runner-up and third medals, but that shoot-off didn’t last any longer than the championship. Craig Parsons broke two pairs for runner-up, and Brian Mayeu settled for third.
Doubles class winners included Larry Bonavita (A), Clay Tietjen (B), Doug Goodman (C) and Ron Casella (D), while Amy Cawley won her first Junior title and Victoria Barner captured Lady with an excellent 97×100.
Mother Nature can turn on you, on a dime – and that’s exactly what happened as Saturday morning dawned. Luckily, the heavy storms that blew over the club before the start of the first flight of the 12-gauge did not return the rest of the day. Not so lucky, as the strong winds behind the weather front more than made up for the lack of rain.
Twelve-gauge shooters were greeted with the best conditions of the day, and five survived to break perfect scores. Seven stations into the first round, Bryan (B.J.) Jensen had won not only his first New York championship title, but, we’re told, the first-ever gun championship. Denny Lehman took runner-up and Jim Grundman, another local New York shooter, won third. Matthew Lenehan captured the New York third medal and B1. Other class winners included Steve Wood (AA), Tom Longolucco (A), Fritz Ochab (C), Jerry Reeves (D) and Alan Maenza (E). Vincent Basile won the Sub-Junior medal, Amy Cawley captured Junior Champion and Catherine Forbush won the Lady title with an excellent 99×100.
Saturday afternoon’s 20-gauge event was a whole other story, however, as winds averaged around 45 mph, and as weather people will gleefully point out, “with gusts to 60 mph.” Ugly to say the least! As Dirty Harry would say, “are you feeling lucky?” and three shooters managed to get through 100 targets where only one bird proved impossible to hit – or maybe they got the hard ones and missed a perfect target because they didn’t recognize the flight path. In any event, Steve Wood, David Ballerini and Dave Cook all kissed the ground coming off their respective fields with great scores of 99×100.
In a shoot-off that went six stations, Ballerini emerged as Champion over Steve Wood, and Dave Cook captured third. Peter Bogdon won the New York third medal in a shoot-off of 98s. Other class winners included Tom Longolucco (A), John Mutchler (B), Fritz Ochab (C) and John Greco (D), with Jackson Nichols winning Sub-Junior Champion, Amy Cawley taking the Junior title, and Victoria Ferchaw’s impressive 98 was good for the Lady concurrent.
For the trivia champions, New York’s records indicate that the last time a New York State 20-gauge title was won with less than a perfect score, you must go back to 1970 to see all-everything New York shooter George Lehr winning the title with a 99. And he told us exactly who he shot off against, too!
The best shoot-offs of Saturday evening, however, are the two most popular events. The first is the 5-man 12-gauge Handicap shoot-off for a beautiful belt buckle. Only four teams qualified, with the Western New York team of Lenehan, Lenehan, Lombardo, Cawley and Nowak clearing station 3. The even-better shoot-off Saturday night, however, is the all-kids event with eight entries this year, handicap awarded by 12-gauge class, shooting doubles under the lights for six flats of ammo sponsored by the Mitchell-Heitman Fund. Congratulations to Jackson Nichols and Owen Cooley.
Luckily, like a hurricane, when wind blows that hard, it’s gone by morning, and Sunday was a much nicer day for everyone. However, recovering from rough shooting, getting the smooth and easy back, only Pennsylvania hot-shot Denny Lehman was able to find perfection to win the 28-gauge championship outright. Only one 99, too, with another non-resident shooter, Tom Longolucco from Rhode Island taking the runner-up spot on the podium, leaving the shooters who scored 98×100 to shoot off for open third, New York Champion, runner-up and third. In two stations shy of a full box, Steve Wood won it on station 4 going around, followed by Charlie Parks (Ohio) and Craig Parsons (New York runner-up), and Ed Smith (New York third). Class champions included Glenn Carboneau (A), Victoria Barner (B ), Robert Nowak (C) and Dan Nichols (D). Jackson Nichols won his second Sub-Junior medal, and Amy Cawley won Junior. Victoria Ferchaw won another Lady title with 97×100.
Another dip into the trivia drawer, again to see when the last time a New York State champion hit the podium with less than a perfect 100 – this time, back to 1977, when Michael Graham won it with a 99.
And then there’s the .410, the baby bore. The sun was shining, the winds were calmer, the sky was clear, and Craig Parsons, needing a big comeback from the 20-gauge, proceeded to smoke 100 targets out of the sky. Matthew Lenehan’s 98 was good for runner-up, and in a shoot-off of 97s, Ed Smith won the third spot on the podium by breaking a pair on the first station. Class winners included David Ballerini (AA), Don Lewandoski (A), Paul Barnas (B), Catherine Forbush (C) and Bill Costello (D). Jackson Nichols continued his Sub-Junior winning ways, and Amy Cawley swept the Juniors with another medal. Mary Alice DeFrancesco won the Lady title, with Catherine Forbush taking the New York Lady medal.
The first shoot-off Sunday was the HOA tie between David Ballerini and Steve Wood, 393×400, with Dave emerging as open Champion and Steve taking his third New York title of the championships. HOA class winners included Tom Longolucco (AA), Matthew Lenehan (A), David Cook (B), Chris Dole (C), Robert Griffith (D) and Joan Paddock Doyle (E).
The final event of the shoot, Champ of Champs, was won by Don Lewandoski.
Rochester-Brooks thanks all of the shooters who decided to brave the virus and attend NewYork’s season-ending tournament. Also, thanks to Clark Hartness for including Rochester Brooks in the season-long beta test of his shoot software. Competitors loved the texting of scores and shoot-off notifications, not to mention scrolling scores on cell phones and devices.
Thanks to NSSA who, in spite of trying financial times, supported five state shoots with $1,000 awards. Rochester-Brooks applied for and received this support, and we were pleased to be able to pay it back to shooters as prize money to HOA classes.
Thanks also to Scott Holmes, Rochester Brooks club manager, to Roger Brooks, chief mechanic, and to on-field mechanic Mark Bartles and target-setter Mike Krol. Thanks to Dan Caryl, New York Chief Referee, for the excellent referees; this has been a difficult year in that regard, and we received many compliments from shooters on the quality of our field referees. Thanks also to club staff, to Trish the Food Fairy and her crew for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and to the registration and cashier people, for working under unusual circumstances, while ensuring the safety and health of all who participated.
– Contributed by Andrea Lehr