Update on Ballard Clay Bombers shooting team

Information provided by Ballard Assistant Coach John Paulin and photos provided by Missy Miller
Update on Ballard Clay Bombers shooting team

Ballard/Gilbert Dual

Ballard and Gilbert competed in their annual dual on May 6 at the Ames Izaak Walton League trap and skeet range. With temperatures pushing 85 well into the evening and a gusty south/southwest wind, shooters faced a variety of challenges, ranging from dancing targets to moderate dehydration. With that said, Clay Bomber shooters continued to perform well with the Iowa SCTP State Championships only a few weeks away.

Unique to this event, the top five shooters, regardless of division, were recognized as “Top Shots.” After a rather dramatic shoot-off, Owen Zunkel came out on top to edge Gilbert’s Taylor Scott for high honors. Also earning their way as Top Shots were Jed Miller in fourth and Zach Nessa in fifth. Zach earned his spot after a three-way shoot off with teammates Nick Jordan and Nolan Payne.

Ballard edged out a narrow victory as the top team of the evening, with its top five scores edging out Gilbert’s by four targets, 218-214.

Given the small number of shooters, this event tends to be more individual rather than squad-oriented. At the Rookie level, Hunter Vitzthum continues to post good scores, taking first with a 34, while teammate J.P. Berka followed closely in third place with a 31. Intermediate boys were lumped into one division (IE’s and IA’s classified as just “Intermediates”); the Clay Bombers were led by Dan Zunkel taking second place with a 39. Following closely were Gage Long, Jake Frederickson and Carter Thompson, who knotted at 38 and ended up in a three-way shoot-off. At the end of the first shoot-off Gage and Jake remained tied, so the shooters were moved back to handicap distance (22 yards versus 16 yards from the trap house) for a second shoot-off. There, once both shooters found their aim, they remained even through the first three stations, but in the end, Gage pulled off a slim two-target lead to take sole possession of third place.

Between the Gilbert and Ballard squads, there were enough Intermediate Division Ladies to make for good competition. Clay Bomber Allie Pierson again found her way to the awards stand, taking third.

Varsity Division shooters seem to be finding their groove in these closing weeks of the season, with Owen Zunkel setting the bar high for the Clay Bombers. Owen posted his first 25 straight of the season in competition on his way to a 48/50. Jed Miller was close behind at 44, taking third place, while Zach Nessa, Nick Jordan and Nolan Payne tied at 42. The resulting shoot-off found Zach on top, in sole possession of fourth place, while Nick took fifth and Nolan sixth- all going 22, 21, 20 in the shoot-off round.

Similar to the Intermediate Division, the Varsity Clay Bomber Ladies faced stiff competition but put up a good showing. Haley Johnson and Madison Whitacre continue to make their move in the ranks and took second and third respectively, both shooting 29/50. Hailey Birdsall was right behind in fifth with 23/50.

This event was good preparation for state championship competition, where June temperatures usually push into the upper 80s, strong winds move targets and occasionally produce volatile weather. We cannot stress enough how important hydration is under these conditions — on the nights before competition where weather looks to be a factor, encourage your athletes to pack a water bottle or two in their shooting bag; it may be the key to that elusive 25 straight!