Trapshooting Duo Making History...not just a man's sport anymore!

Trapshooting Duo Making History
...not just a man's sport anymore!
by Jennifer LB Leese

Women can be as good as any man--even better--at the sport of trapshooting. Cassie has been handling a shotgun since she was 12 years old. Cassie's father, Richard Sharrer, a.k.a. Moose, a long-time trapshooter, said, "She is a tom boy. She used to sit behind me when she was about 5 or 6 years old and say, 'Daddy, when can I start; when can I start?'" He laughed, showing utmost pride at the memory he had just aroused.

"I coached her in the summer and fall when she was 12, and she shot in the winter league. The following spring, she started shooting registered targets. When she was 13, she was the Junior Sub Division champion." When Cassie was 14, she was the Jr. Sub Division champion again, and the Maryland Women's State champion. "She beat all the women--she took off after that," her father boasted.
Cassie made the All-American team while in her 20s and kept that title for 4 years straight. Even though, Cassie quit competing in championships for ten years, she quickly picked up her old shooting habits and made the 2005 All-American team. She has won numerous championships throughout the years in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Cassie, who works as a RN and Senior V.P. of Oncology, bought herself a motor home and her and her dad travel all over the country. "That made a big difference in my shooting," said Moose. "I can relax and watch TV inside the motor home instead of sitting in a lawn chair in the heat." Cassie, who also likes to hunt and shoot skeet, fits in practicing between business meetings when traveling. Between March and September, her and her father shoot just about every weekend. Cassie shoots with a Silver Seitz single barrel and an old Perazzi MX3 combo set--she's as colorful as she is accurate.

Moose, who's on the Senior Vet All-American team, has been shooting for 40 years. He started when he was 35 and has won many championships. "He makes some of the younger fellers look kinda silly," said Robert Igou, owner of Bob's Shooting Supplies in Winchester.

"When buying trophies--before anyone has shot--everyone says, 'May as well get Moose's name engraved,' He hadn't even shot yet," said Lee Collins, a fellow trapshooter and friend who has tons of stories to tell about past shoots. "They [Cassie and Moose] are rare birds."

Trapshooting is a growing sport in Maryland and the tri-state area. There are over 50,000 people of all ages in trapshooting and roughly 82 million registered clay targets are thrown each year. "It's a lifetime sport," said Moose, "a year long sport.

"It can get expensive, but it is one of the safest sports around."

This sport dates back to the 19th century. Trapshooting quickly became popular in England and in the United States, where the National Rifle Association (NRA) was formed (1871) to systematize the rules for rifle marksmanship.

Shooting matches were organized, where trophies were offered. "They're [championship winnings] all different. You can win money, shooting bags, silver trays, or trophies," said Moose. "I live for it. I love it!"

Events for pistol and revolvers were added to the matches in the 1900s. In 1896, shooting competitions, pistol shooting at 50m (164 ft), rifle shooting at 300m (984 ft), trapshooting and skeet, and small-bore rifle shooting, were included during the Olympic games. Separate men and women's events were established in 1984.

There are three types of trapshooting games-16 yard, handicap, and doubles. All games are 25 shells from five different shooting stations. In handicap, the shooting distances are increased and the shooters are grouped by skill. 16 yard is where five shooters are five different stations shoot 16-yards from the trap house. Doubles are shot from the 16-yard line when a pair of targets are thrown at the same time.

It is well known by trapshooters across the country, that Cassie is one of the fastest shooters at doubles. "She's an excellent shot. She's doing well," said Robert Igou. "She shoots faster than I can see the targets."
"Everybody stands in awe when they watch Cassie," said her dad.

Typically, trapshooters wear a vest or jacket with padding on the front of the shoulder to help with the recoil. This vest is to help the shooter mount the gun in the same place consistently. These vests also have pouches to hold full shells and empty hulls (empty shotgun shells). However, they can wear just about anything they feel comfortable in--even dress clothes and heels like Cassie did for our interview (Which isn't what she usually wears to shoot in--she was on her way home from a business meeting.).

Trapshooting with shotguns began in England to fabricate the flight of birds (hence the name "clay pigeons"). These saucer-shaped discs, now made from silt and pitch, are hurled from a mechanical contraption (the trap). A voice-activated machine typically throws the clay targets. However, some gun clubs still use a device where the shooter must push a button to launch the target. Either way, the shooter traditionally yells "Pull" when they launch the target. The shooter must see the target and react to its direction of travel in order to break the target.

Annual championship matches, The Grand American, are held in Vandalia, Ohio at the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) grounds since 1924. However, this year will be the final shoot to be held there. Beginning in 2006, the Grand will take place in Sparta, Illinois. Trapshooting events are "a lot of fun. We get together and have cookouts," said Cassie. Her father went on to tell me that "there is something for everyone" at these events. They have tents set up where participants and their families can purchase not only gun and shooting necessities, but also jewelry, food, crafts, and hand-made items.

Comparing the ATA from now to years ago, Cassie said, "The ATA is more refined and business savvy now. They are trying to streamline the shooting process now, such as shooting 10 targets per station more often to decrease the amount of time people are shooting and to be able to accommodate more s hooters. They also have more clubs open around the country and are providing more ways to obtain adequate target requirements to compete in state tournaments without penalties." The ATA offers many benefits for its members; they have sponsored credit cards, insurance, and much more.

"Members of the Tuscarora Gun Club" [father and daughter's home gun club] "know Cassie and Moose as the most competitive and feared shooters in the region. They simply don't like to lose anytime, anywhere, even against each other. There is always heated competition between themselves in the Doubles events, but Cassie usually beats her Dad in the Handicap event but Moose rarely misses a 16-yard target. The Father Daughter team is very active in all club activities, including registered shoot preparation, scoring, coordination, and other activities. Moose was recently inducted into the Frederick County MD sports hall of fame and Cassie is currently going after another All-American honor with recent wins in the North Carolina State Shoot. The Tuscarora Gun Club is proud to have such talented and dedicated members as part of the team," said Ron Hammond, Member Tuscarora Gun Club, Point of Rocks, Maryland.

Cassie is sure to be a legend in trapshooting history. "She is one of the premiere women shooters around right now," said Robert Igou. Robert has known Cassie and her father for years. He even told me about Cassie's other hobby--cows. Cassie has about 40 cows. Her father said, "She loves her cows." Cassie admits that raising cows are "a lot of fun". If Cassie is as good at raising beef cattle as she is at trapshooting...then our supermarkets should have some of the best USDA-Approved beef for sale.