“What is vintage skeet?” you ask. It is the original version of the skeet game we now shoot, but using the original, circa-1935 rules. These rules included a variable delay of the target’s release rather than the instant releases now seen and a low-gun starting position. Your guns couldn’t be shouldered until the target was in the air. The target sequence used is the standard sequence which is currently in use. These original rules make the game more difficult, as evidenced by only three 25 straights shot over this year’s entire four-day tournament!
Our Annual Vintage Skeet Championships is a continuing celebration of the NSSA’s 1st World Skeet Championships, which was shot in Salon, Ohio, in August 1935. According to the April 1935 edition of the Skeet Shooting News (the official publication of the infant National Skeet Shooting Association), this was to be the first time that state and sectional champions had an opportunity to shoot shoulder-to-shoulder for championship glory during the six-day tournament, and the concept created a lot of interest among skeeters of the period.
Our 17th Annual NSSA World Vintage Skeet Championship was held March 2-5 at the Gator Skeet & Trap Club in Gainesville, Florida. We had 171 entries participating in the 2017 Championships, which were shot using an NSSA Event 6 registration certificate. This is significant, as it allowed both members and non-NSSA members the opportunity to participate in our favorite shotgun game. Targets shot by NSSA members are counted towards individual lifetime target statistics but do not impact their current averages.
While the primary emphasis of the tournament was vintage skeet, Gator Skeet & Trap also offered daily gauge-specific side games such as 5-stand sporting, Monte Carlo (a.k.a. Olympic trap featuring 15 machines), and a sliding trap game shot from the 16- through 20-yard lines.
Thursday was day one and offered events for our 16-gauge aficionados as well as a modern skeet Doubles event. While any gauge could be used for the Doubles event, only true 16-gauge guns were permitted in the 16-gauge skeet championships and the optional side games. There was also a concurrent game gun and hammer gun handicap event offered throughout the entire four days of tournament shooting. These handicap events awarded extra targets to those shooting the smaller gauges, leveling the field for the smaller gauges and allowing them to compete more fairly. These concurrent handicap events have proven to be quite popular in the last few years.
The 16-gauge skeet honors and gold medal went to Georgia’s Joe Dickson, posting a 47×50. Team CZ-USA members Dave Miller and Jeff Neumann captured both the silver and bronze.
The 16-gauge side games were hotly contested, with Dave Miller nudging out Rick Staples and Neil Wilkinson. The 16- to 20-yard sliding trap event was also dominated by Team CZ-USA, with Dave Miller again taking the gold and teammate Jeff Neumann the bronze. Kevin Brooks slid in between to take the silver. On the Olympic bunker, Hal Hare took the 16-gauge gold medal, followed by Dave Miller and Jeff Neumann.
Thursday’s final skeet offering was a 50-target modern doubles-at-all-stations event, but shot with a low gun and delayed target release. Former A.M.U. shooter Joe Dickson took the top spot on the podium with a 47×50, followed by silver medalist Neil Wilkinson and bronze medalist Hal Hare.
Eurotarget USA supplied the clays for all events during the tournament, and they flew straight and true, with minimal, if any target breakage. This was the second year that Gator chose to use these fine imported targets.
Friday was the second day of our four-day shoot, being reserved for .410 skeet, 28-gauge skeet, and assorted 28-gauge side games. Florida’s Hal Hare captured the .410 gold on a gusty morning, shooting a 43×50 with an SKB 200HR, and took an early three-target lead in the HOA race. Neil Wilkinson took the silver with a 40×50, and Joe Dickson was only a target behind with a 39×50.
In the 28-gauge championships, Hare again took the gold medal with another SKB 200 HR, firing a 44×50 to hold off Jeff Neumann, silver, and Neil Wilkinson, bronze, who were both one target behind at 43. The 28-gauge 5-stand event was again taken by CZ’s Dave Miller, followed by Neil Wilkinson, silver, and Kevin Brooks, bronze. In the 28-gauge sliding trap event, Dave Miller again displayed his mastery taking the gold, followed by Kevin Brooks and Rick Staples who took silver and bronze. In the final 28-gauge side games, Dave Miller prevailed to take another gold, besting Hal Hare, silver, and Robert Hill, bronze.
Saturday was day 3 and reserved for 20-gauge fans. Both vintage skeet and exciting side games were offered. A gusty but balmy day in early April lifted everyone’s spirits and aspirations. What a relief from the snow and ice up North! Saturday saw one of our first 25 straights, shot by Rick Staples. Quite a feat at vintage skeet! Joe Dickson showed his form and posted two rounds of 24×25 in his gold-medal performance for 48×50, followed by Kevin Brooks with a 47×50 to take silver and Hal Hare with a 46×50 for bronze. Rick Staples took A1, Neil Wilkinson captured B1, and Dave Miller won C1 honors.
In the 20-gauge side games, Dave Miller really showed his shooting skills, winning the 20-gauge 5-stand event and 20-gauge bunker by convincing margins, while Kevin Brooks took the gold in the 16- to 20-yard trap game. An all-you-could-eat fish and shrimp dinner followed Saturday’s shooting, all courtesy of the officers and directors of the Gator Skeet & Trap Club.
Sunday was the final day of the festival and was reserved for 12-gauge skeet and side games. Joe Dickson and Dave Miller both posted elusive 25 straights, with Joe posting a gold-medal score of 48×50. Kevin Brooks finished second with a 45×50, and Hal Hare took third with a 44×50. Additional winners were Neil Wilkinson A1, Dave Miller B1 and Robert Hill C1. It should be pointed out that in vintage skeet, the classes are determined via the Lewis Class system, allowing everyone to shoot against others of similar skill levels.
The 12-gauge 5-stand awards went to Dave Miller, gold; Jeff Neumann, silver; and Rick Staples, bronze. The 12-gauge 16- to 20-yard trap was won by Kevin Brooks, gold, followed by Dave Miller, silver, and Neil Wilkinson. The 12-gauge bunker event was taken by Dave Miller, gold; Hal Hare, silver; and Lou Stallings, bronze.
The High Over All race was closely contested throughout the tournament and finished in a tie between long-time shooting friends Joe Dickson and Hal Hare, posting identical scores of 177×200. The tiebreaker was a vintage skeet miss-and-out shoot-off with the .410 bore, with Hare nudging Dickson by one target to take the HOA gold medal. Dickson won the silver and Neil Wilkinson the bronze. There was also a special HOA Veteran concurrent won by Robert Hill with a 15-target margin over Lou Stallings.
The last events to be determined were the tournament long concurrent races for both the game gun handicap and hammer gun handicap. Game guns could be any gauge but needed to be 7 pounds or less, have barrels 28 inches or less, and have double triggers and splinter forearms. Smaller gauges received added targets to their scores.
Hammer guns were required to have exposed hammers, as the name implies. Again, the smaller bores received an equalizing handicap added to their scores. These events were quite popular, with 27 entries participating. The game gun champion was Neil Wilkinson shooting a .410 bore, runner-up was Hal Hare using a 20 gauge, and third place was Kevin Brooks with a .410 bore.
The hammer gun handicap was won by Hal Hare with a Pedersoli 20 gauge, Robert Hill, runner-up, with a 12 gauge Pedersoli, and Neil Wilkinson, 12 gauge.
Many thanks to the officers and directors of the Gator Club for the daily luncheons and the Friday and Saturday evening dining. Thanks to our sponsors, Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company, Claybuster Wads, NSSA and Eurotarget USA, and kudos to Negrini Gun Cases, CZ-USA, Tilden Trophies and Rudolph Foods. We appreciate your continued support of the vintage skeet games.
– Contributed by Hal Hare