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Local trap shooter wins all-state first team honors

Troy Haverly won state honors by being named to the Minnesota Trapshooting Association's all-state men's first team for two consecutive years. He has enjoyed the shooting sports for more than three decades, and has won first team honors several times over the years. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

NEW LONDON -- April is when many of us start swinging our favorite clubs with the aim of doing better on the greens in the coming year.

April is when Troy Haverly starts swinging the barrel of his single-shot Perazzi TM1 shotgun.

There's no question about his aim.

Haverly will be starting the 2010 trapshooting season just as he did the last two: At the top of the pack.

He won honors in the last two consecutive years by being named to the Minnesota Trapshooting Association's all-state men's first team. His registered scores earned him a fifth-place listing on the 10-member first team in each of those years.

He competes as an amateur, but his accomplishment is not unlike making the cut and getting placed on a professional sport team's starting lineup. Minnesota is home to some of the nation's top trapshooters, and hundreds of them vie each year for a listing on the team.

The quality of the competition is what makes the honor mean so much to him, he said.

Yet when the competitive shooting is done, it's the camaraderie that matters most. "These guys get to be like family,'' said Haverly.

Haverly is the owner of Pete's Surplus north of Sibley State Park. He has been trap shooting since his father introduced him to it at age 12. His father, Del, remains an avid trap shooter.

Haverly said he used to accompany his father to the Willmar range. He'd spent most of the evening setting the clay targets for the adults; his reward was a free round of trap shooting.

Gunsmith Pat Laib, of Spicer, introduced him to competitive shooting by bringing him to an event in LeSeuer in 1976. It was a cold, windy and miserable day but he remembers most of all that he busted 81 of the 100 targets that whizzed his way.

He'd probably pack away the gun for good and take up bowling if he ever missed that many targets these days. To make the all-state team requires a shooting proficiency somewhere over 95 percent.

The competition is based on registered scores in three events. The first puts all shooters at 16 yards from the target. The second is a handicapped event that places the best shooters -- Haverly among them -- as much as 27 yards away, or nearly the distance between home plate and first base on a baseball field. The third event is doubles competition in which two targets are launched.

The season runs from June through September. Registered shooters must fire at a minimum of 2,500 targets at 16 yards; 1,500 in handicapped events; and 1,000 in doubles through the season's course.

Shooters must compete at a minimum of four different clubs in the state. Each must also compete in separate High All-Around competitions.

Haverly said he devotes most of his summer weekends to the shoots, and he gets in as much practice as he can.

It takes lots of practice to acquire the instinctive aim and accuracy needed to bust targets that fly at over 40 miles an hour.

It takes mental focus to do it in competition.

"The mental (challenge) is the toughest part,'' said Haverly of the sport. The worries at home or work, the conversation two minutes earlier with a friend all have to be forgotten when a competitor stands at the line and commands "pull.''

Trap shooting is very much like golf in that it is an individual sport, said Haverly. "There's only one person to blame when things go wrong,'' he said.

Haverly said he's been fortunate in that his wife and family support him in his passion. In turn, he's also introduced his son Jonathon to the sport. The 18-year-old is a "natural'' shot, said Haverly. "I have to work at it.''

There's no one he probably enjoys working at it with more than the guy who introduced him to the competitive side of shooting. Pat Laib and Haverly spend lots of time at shooting ranges together. They like to wager an ice cream treat on who will do best.

Each has bought bucket loads of ice cream for the other. Laib was inducted in the Minnesota Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame in 1999, and gives Haverly all the challenge he can ask.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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