Legend has it that in 1889, Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, stated that the Patent Office would eventually close, because… “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Some of his descendants are likely clay target shooters since it is often heard, “I have seen everything there is to see in this game, and nothing surprises me.” Those in attendance at the 2022 Paxton Arms Texas State Championships were reminded, however, that there is always something new and exciting to witness in this sport.
A full slate of events was booked for the four days of the tournament at the Greater Houston Sports Club. Thursday morning started things off with the Texas State Referee Championship. Up for grabs was the coveted Al Topham Buckle and $500 in added money, donated by Sharron and Mike Schmitt. When the dust settled, Stormy Weatherford was crowned the champion, with the sole perfect 100. As is the custom, the added money was divided equally among all participants.
The afternoon saw the start of the doubles championship, sponsored by the Corpus Christi Gun Club. One hundred forty-three competitors took to the field, and at the end of three rotations, Houston Deshotels and Sheaffer Stanfill posted the sole perfect scores. Shoot-off sheets were quickly prepared, and Houston and Sheaffer took to the field to determine the gun champion. A box of shells later, both competitors were still in the running. A second box yielded a champion at the end of the second pass, with Sheaffer missing a high bird from station 4. Five shooters had scores of 99 and shot off for additional honors, including the resident champion title. Three quick pairs determined Cody Sergeant as the state title holder and Melissa Barringer as the Ladies title holder.
Friday’s schedule included four rotations of 28-gauge and two rotations of 20-gauge. Although 10 shooters positioned themselves for championship titles in the 28-gauge, they would have to wait patiently. No shoot-offs were held on Friday to allow for attendance at the TSSA Hall of Fame Banquet, sponsored by the Sandy Springs Skeet Club. The evening saw the awarding of belt buckles to the members of the Texas All-State Teams, auctions that featured Briley 10/22 rifles and engraved knives from master engraver Jon Novak, a drawing for a pallet of Winchester shotgun shells, and a nice plated dinner. The highlight of the night, however, was the induction of three incredibly deserving individuals into the TSSA Hall of Fame. Both Greg Hayes and Lindsay Plesko were enshrined for shooting proficiency. The Buck Stark Award is awarded for outstanding work with the TSSA and for unselfish service to the overall perpetuation of the sport. This year’s honoree was the manager of the GHSC, Kevin Dougherty.
Saturday dawned and the final two rotations of the 20-gauge and four rotations of the 12-gauge events were on tap. The evening started with the Lib and Woody Anderson 28-gauge shoot-offs. Through the first round of the shoot-offs, competitors dwindled until Josh Poole bested Kyle Shumaker on the last pair of the box to become both the gun champion and Texas resident champion. During this shoot-off, Lindsay Plesko overtook Rachel Barringer to gain the Ladies title. Sixteen shooters then took the stage to try their hand at securing the Cody Sergeant / Harper Insurance Agency 20-gauge title. At the end of the first box, Cody Sergeant, Josh Poole, Andre Williams and Rachel Barringer finished clean and headed off to grab a second box of shells. Andre Williams and Rachel Barringer again went clean in the second box. Toward the end of the third box, Rachel let a bird slip by, allowing Andre to secure the gun championship. Rachel was not left out of the cold, however, having secured both the Ladies title and the resident championship.
The final shoot-off of the evening was the GHSC 12-gauge. Notably, Georgie Seagraves had one of the nine perfect scores with her first 100 straight. It was interesting to observe that of the nine competitors, four of the perfect scores were women, portending events to come. The first box narrowed the field to Cliff Moller, Cooper Oliver, and Kaleigh Lawson. After a few pairs in the second box, Cooper Oliver was crowned gun champion and resident champion. Kaleigh Lawson secured runner-up and the Ladies title.
As the sun rose on Sunday morning, the scoreboard revealed that Houston Deshotels was 400 straight, and both Rachel Barringer and Josh Poole were 300 targets straight. Conditions seemed ripe for solid scores in the .410 Bore with a balmy 96% humidity and temperatures rising rapidly from 75 degrees at dawn. By 3:30 in the afternoon, all scores were turned in. The scoreboard revealed that although no perfect HOA or HAA scores were meant to be, several strong scores were posted. Both NSSA Hall of Famer, Kevin Monteleone, and Rachel Barringer posted scores of 398×400 and lined up to vie for the HOA Championship, sponsored by the Dallas Gun Club. The crowd gathered to witness the shoot-off and to see if Rachel could win the open HOA title, after being crowned the second female Texas State overall HOA Champion since the start of the championship in 1931. The format of the HOA shoot-off was a regulation round of singles, total score. It quickly became apparent that Rachel was not to be denied and at the end of the shoot-off, she secured the overall HOA title, the resident HOA title, and the Ladies HOA title. Four shooters with scores of 99 lined up for the S&B Plumbing .410 Bore Championship. Kevin Monteleone bested Alison Boyette to win the open title and Mike Gerschick secured third overall and the Texas resident champion crown.
Hats off to Rachel Barringer and her impressive accomplishment, and many thanks to all the competitors that came to Houston to compete. The TSSA is already looking forward to what excitement the 2023 event holds. Plan on joining us from June 8-11, 2023, at the Greater Houston Sports Club to witness the excitement for yourself.
– Contributed by Patrick Byrne