Greater Houston Gun Club was the site of the 2017 Texas Skeet Shooters Association’s State Championships held June 22-25. The weather forecast called for lots of rain, but luckily it held off during most of the shooting time. Allen Cline began the shoot by winning the TSSA Referee Championship and taking home the Al Topham Champion Referee Award.
The Doubles Event, sponsored by Todd Bender, got underway Thursday, and two contenders with perfect scores faced off in the shoot-off. Brandon Cade emerged as the champion over Jason Ward, while Jack Davis claimed third place after besting the 99s. John L. Barnes, Cameron Schuster, Kendall Jaroszewski, Donald Root, Jeff Mossman and Lloyd King took top honors in their classes.
The last shoot-off of the night was for the five-man team trophy, which is greatly coveted at the Texas State Shoot. The youth of Team Texas won over experience, and the spectators went wild when the shoot-off was completed. As always, Greater Houston Gun Club treated the shoot participants to hors d’oeuvres as the shoot-offs were taking place.
Friday morning was the start of the Greater Houston Gun Club 12 Gauge Championship, which would be concluded on Saturday due to the Friday night banquet. Friday evening was a night of celebration as the top shooters in the state were awarded state honors and a new TSSA Hall of Famer was inducted at the Hall of Fame Banquet. Robert Paxton entertained the crowd with his vast knowledge of shooting information as shooters were called to collect their belt buckles, and at the end of the night, Tami Myers was introduced as the newest Hall of Fame member of the Texas Skeet Shooters Association.
Saturday was a full day as the 12, 20 and 28 gauges would be concluded while working around a few showers and storms. Prior to the shoot-offs, everyone gathered for a three-gun salute and a moment of silence to remember our friends lost over the past year. Once all the day’s regulation shots were fired, the shooters began preparing for shoot-offs. Only six shooters managed perfect scores with the big gun, as the wind made it challenging for all. Garrett Hackmaster was the last one standing in the shoot-off to claim the 12-gauge title in front of perennial contenders, Robert Paxton and Jason Ward. Barnes, Greg Massari, Frank Tucker, Robert Davis, David Blakemore, Gary Steuerwald and Pierce Miller were the top shooters in their respective classes. Terrell Rifle and Pistol Club claimed the 12 gauge five-man team championship.
Ten competitors broke perfect scores in the 20 gauge, and all were ready to settle the gun championship in the shoot-off stadium. Cade claimed his second gun championship of the weekend by outlasting John Kirkland and outstanding junior shooter, Andrew Benson, for the 20-gauge title sponsored by Lonesome Charlie’s. Skeete Smitha, Helen Swetman, Mikaela Saenz (with her first 100 in the 20 gauge), Jeff Zwiebel, Mike Guthrie, and Christian Saenz earned class championships. The youngsters of Team Texas took home another five-man team trophy after outlasting their competition.
The 28 gauge, sponsored by Doug Toulouse, was the next event to be settled. Up-and-coming Junior shooter, Nicholas Godfrey, continued his impressive year, winning the 28-gauge title over runner-up Armour Strunk and third-place finisher Michael Galo, III. Class champions included Barnes, Matthew Ward, Lauren Burge, Louis Levy, Charli Abendroth and Stephen Naeve. The Dallas Gun Club team was eager to take home a five-man team trophy and did just that after outlasting the Buttercups, shooting for Bandera.
After Saturday, only the .410 bore remained. With many competitors close to the top of the leaderboard, it was anyone’s tournament to win. Randy Wall and Andrew Benson broke their first 100s in the .410, along with Cameron Schuster. In the end, Schuster claimed the championship, which was sponsored by Richard McCarter, while Benson and Wall settled for runner-up and third. John Castillo, Bailey Glenewinkel, Robert Ellington, David Cudia, John Delaloye and Travis McHenry were the stand-outs in class competition. Team Texas continued their hot streak and took home another eagle trophy.
As usual, the HOA comes down to the .410, and the 2017 Texas State Championships was no different. Schuster sealed the Paxton-sponsored HOA Championship with his perfect .410 score and 398×400. Three 396s followed the champion, and Paxton took runner-up over William Edmunds, third, and Andrew Benson, AA1. Bailey Glenewinkel took home the Ladies’ championship, followed by Helen Swetman and Lauren Burge. Class winners included Castillo, Benson, Jack Davis, Robert Ellington, John Delaloye, Christian Saenz and Sydney Nickel. The five-man team from Greater Houston Gun Club made the host club proud by claiming the last team award, the HOA eagle trophy. In the end, it was an outstanding tournament with great competition and fellowship. Thank you to all the shoot sponsors and Greater Houston Gun Club for making the Texas State Skeet Championships a wonderful event.
-Contributed by Nathan Boyd