The 2023 Paxton Arms Texas State Skeet Championships were held at the Greater Houston Sports Club (GHSC) June 1-4. One hundred seventy-six shooters from three continents brought their top target-busting talent to determine the next name to engrave on GHSC’s revered Todd Bender champion’s monument below reigning 2022 HOA Champion Rachel Barringer’s.
Early June around Houston is supposed to be about 90 degrees, and it was. The wildcards, of course, are always wind or rain – sometimes both. All four contest days delivered the weatherman’s “average” conditions that, to a clay target shooter, were way above average! Other than a few wind changes around local thunderstorms, tournament weather was ideal.
The 2023 sponsors ensured the tournament would be an event to remember. In addition to helping to underwrite the contest, the list of ways for entrants to win was long. Each Championship event carried a purse of $400, $300, and $200, with an HOA of $600, $500, and $400. There was a Lewis Class purse, a Briley-sponsored Lewis Class Doubles, and Concurrents that offered prize medals and trophies, including the Gene Jackson Trophy for the Senior Vet Champion and, new for 2023, the Woody Anderson Trophy for the Military Veteran HOA.
Past TSSA president and 2007 TSSA Hall of Famer Harry Mach’s family and Greater Houston Sports Club donated seven 28-gauge Beretta shotguns for the 12-Gauge Event class champions. The Chaddock family offered the Champion of Champions option purse for the highest composite score of the last 25 targets in the Main Event. Buckle prizes were awarded for the Five-Man Team, a cash purse for the Two-Man Team option, and a Three-Man Team blind draw in the 28-gauge Event sponsored by myskeet.com. There were even drawings for complimentary entry into the 2023 World Skeet Championships provided by the National Skeet Shooting Association, and the long list of loot didn’t include the gun and pallet of ammo raffle drawings at the Friday night Hall of Fame banquet!
Thursday, June 1, kicked off with the 100-target, 12-gauge Texas State Referee Championship sponsored by Mike and Sharron Schmitt, and the Doubles Championship, sponsored by the Corpus Christi Gun Club. Congratulations to referee Kirk Barringer, whose 98 earned him the champion spot and commemorative Al Topham belt buckle. Timothy Provorse’s 97 took the runner-up slot, and Michael Dowling, with 94, nabbed third place. In the Doubles, only Edward Smith walked away from the field with a 100 straight, although there was a pile of 99s decided by the shoot-offs. Craig Parsons took runner-up, and Collegiate shooter Sheaffer Stanfill, who was fresh off his Briley Blue Goose runner-up trophy just days before, earned third place.
The Lib Anderson 28-Gauge and start of the Cody Sergeant 20-Gauge competition were on Friday’s schedule, with the shoot-offs held the next day. The highlight of the day was the always-anticipated Friday night Hall of Fame banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pearland. The 2023 inductees were Tim Cudia and Kyle Shumaker. Tim Cudia, a current North Zone TSSA Director, was recognized for contributions to competitive Junior shooting programs. As a five-time state title holder, 2023 Texas All-State Sub-Senior Team member Kyle Shumaker was nominated for shooting proficiency. One of the most coveted awards in Texas skeet is the Art Sideras Rookie of the Year Award. The 2023 recipient was Cash Hicks, a Junior shooter from Weatherford.
Saturday saw the Cody Sergeant 20-Gauge finale and Greater Houston Sports Club 12-Gauge competition followed by the three gun shoot-offs. It looked as if contestants were going to have go deep into their ammo arsenal – there were 11 100-straights in the 28s, eight in the 20s, and 18 in the 12-gauge. Congratulations to 28-gauge champ, TS Chuck Rister, TS Houston Deshotels (runner-up), and JR Connor Thigpen (third). In the 20s, CL Sheaffer Stanfill won the champion spot, with TS Edward Smith runner-up, and CL Carter Royston at third. In the big bore competition, 2022 defending HOA Champion Rachel Barringer took the champion’s spot, SS Les Lala was runner-up, and TS Josh Poole was third. When the guns were cased Saturday afternoon, just two shooters had managed 300x300s – Kevin Monteleone and Sheaffer Stanfill.
One of the more somber parts of the championship is the remembrance of Texas shooters that passed away during the prior year. Many former greats of our game were recognized, including David Marcum, Raymond Adamietz, Jim Pierce, Harry Mach, Mike Cusack, Johnny Moore, Dave Scott, John Hunt, John Martinez, Robert Manskey, WC ‘John’ Hill, Connally Ludwick, and Tom Hupp.
The weather looked like it might be fussy on Sunday. A strong storm line passed through during the night, and a second line was forecast in the afternoon. Instead, light northwest winds and comfortable temperatures prevailed throughout the S&B Plumbing .410 Bore rounds and the Dallas Gun Club HOA shoot-offs. In the small bore, SS George Murray, champion, shined with a perfect score, and CL Sheaffer Stanfill dropped just one target for the runner-up spot. Ten shooters posted 98s for the third place tie, and it was VT Douglas Toulouse, third, who didn’t blink at the end.
With an impressive overall of 399, CL Shaeffer Stanfill was named the 2023 Paxton Arms Texas State Skeet Championships HOA Champion. SS Kevin Monteleone took the runner-up honors with 397. SS George Murray prevailed during the shoot-off over Houston Deshotels to break the third-place tie. In the Lady’s concurrent, congratulations go to Rachel Barringer, whose 395 cleanly took the Lady HOA laurels. Melissa Barringer, runner-up, and Lindsay Plesko, third, were her nearest competitors, each with a score of 392.
The Sub-Junior and Junior Concurrents provided a glimpse of Texas’s next champions, and the talent pool looks strong! Slayde Roktya’s 392 earned him the Sub-Junior HOA, and John Arnett crushed 394 of the fast flyers for the Junior HOA. The Woody Anderson Trophy went to Military Veteran HOA winner Douglas Toulouse, and 2023 Texas All-State Senior Vet Team Captain David Cudia earned the Gene Jackson Trophy as HOA Senior Veteran Champion.
Resident Championships were awarded to George Murray (HOA, 20, .410), Rachel Barringer (12), Chuck Rister (28), and Josh Poole (Doubles). Ladies Resident championships were awarded to Rachel Barringer (HOA, 12, .410), Kayleigh Lawson (Doubles, 28), and Lindsay Plesko (20).
The TSSA Board of Directors extends its thanks to GHSC for helping to organize another fantastic shoot, the sponsors whose support made the contest great, the referees whose dedication and tireless talent made the contest precise, and the shooters whose participation made it competitive. We look forward to seeing all of you at next year’s 2024 Paxton Arms Texas State Skeet Championships.
– Contributed by R.K. Sawyer