Hundreds of people are clustered with shotguns high atop East Orchard Mesa this week and weekend, and they’re right on time.
They’re taking part in the prestigious Colorado State Shoot at the Grand Junction Trap Club — the second year in a row that the club has hosted the competition — and they’re on time, in a sense, because the club is undergoing expansion just to bring competitors like them to the Western Slope.
Three years ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife gave the club $60,000 to help fund needed repairs and upgrades of the shooting grounds, and those new fields shimmered crack-less in the beating sun during the competition this week.
“At the time, we only had eight fields and now we have expanded with that grant to 12 full fields, and two combination trap and skeet fields,” club member Charlie Costello described.
“What enabled us to get that grant was what we’re doing this weekend,” he said, motioning to the long line of shooters — all ages, men and women, most wearing shiny eyewear and serious stares, some with smiles after hits or cringes after misses, always in good nature, it seemed.
In competitive trap shooting, deadeyes shoot from five positions along a semicircular field during 100- and 200-target events, using split-second timing to blast 4¼-inch discs hurled at random angles by oscillating machines housed in front of them. The top shooters rarely miss.
“So you call, and you never know the angle that it’s going to come out,” Costello explained. “That’s the complexity of trap shooting.”
From the astounding perspective of the club’s fields, a trap shot to the right is set against the backdrop of a sprawling Grand Mesa and the shot to the left is backed by a showy Mount Garfield and the Bookcliffs.
The lofty 100-or-so-mile view from the club wasn’t lost on many of the competitive shooters, who arrived from more than 20 states, some from back East where trap ranges are often crammed into confined spaces.
Also right on time, the day before the big competition began CPW announced another grant was headed the trap club’s way — $39,500 for needed roof and facilities repairs.
Most of the phase two grant money will go to repair the about-30-year-old trap club’s roof, but a substantial amount will go to upgrading the restrooms.
Costello, like all club members, volunteers his time. He wrote the applications for both winning grants and said the second grant might not be as exciting as the first “but it’s just as critical.”
The timing of the grants is probably not coincidental with CPW’s current development of the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, close to Interstate 70 above the town of Palisade.
Costello said that Cameo has turned away from trap and skeet in their plans, focusing more on sporting clays — “golf with a shotgun,” as Costello calls it — in addition to the world-class rifle and pistol ranges planned for the complex. That decision was likely based on topography, Costello said.
While preliminary events have been going on this week, championships are being held both Saturday and Sunday at the club, 116 32 Road, just past the dragway.
There’s plenty of shady seating for spectators. Don’t mind the scattered shells.