While Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, it doesn’t kick the season off with as big a bang as the annual Pennsylvania State Trapshoot.
Make that 1.5 million bangs — as in the estimated 1.5 million shots that will be fired at clay targets during the week-long rite of summer passage held at Elysburg’s Valley Gun Club.
“Every state — including Hawaii, Alaska and a number of the Canadian provinces — hold an annual state trapshoot,” said event publicity coordinator Tom Austin. “Last year, our shoot was the largest of them all.”
The state shoot and Colonial Classic event will be held from June 7-15 and will literally draw thousands of shooters from across the country and as far away as Great Britain.
“The biggest single event during the shoot is the Krieghoff Challenge on Friday afternoon,” Austin said. “Last year, the event drew 1,238 shooters. The next day, at our Singles Championship, we had 1,184 shooters last year.”
There will be much to see at this year’s state trapshoot, including $100,000 worth of improvements to the lower trap line.
“Shooters and visitors will immediately notice major improvements on the lower trap line this year with the replacement of the trap houses and shooting pads on the lower banks, number 9, 10 and 11,” said Chuck Fritzges, shoot mananger. “The $100,000 project will be completed and ready for the first shoot of the year.”
The remodeling will continue into next year, according to Austin, who said the plan will be to replace all 53 of the club’s automated trap machines which can cost upwards of $10,000 each.
The trapshooting extravaganza boasts some of the best shooters of the world, but there is much more to see, according to Austin.
“From a spectator standpoint, the Krieghoff challenge is quite a thing to see with shooters competing for a $20,000 shotgun,” he said. “But there is something for everyone. We have free parking and free admission. There are outdoors vendors offering everything from shotguns and outdoors apparel to jewelry.
“And many people don’t seem to realize the extensive shooting hall of fame we have onsite. There are traces from the sport of trapshooting from over the past 100 years. Mickey Mantle was an avid shooter and we have one of his autographed shooting bags, among many other neat things on display.”