Local shooters cleaned up at the annual Crab Buckle Shoot this year with seven members of the Del Norte Rod and Gun Club winning a coveted custom crab buckle for taking first place in their division in the various events at the club on Friday through Sunday, while four of those shooters shot the highest score overall in their divisions. The top shooter out of everybody was also a local this year, as Mac Robertson of Crescent City captured the top award and the biggest crab buckle by busting more birds than any other competitor over the three days.
While the Del Norte Rod and Gun Club hosts several shoots throughout the year, the Crab Buckle Shoot is the club’s main event and its biggest fundraiser. The Pacific International Trapshooting Association sanctioned event draws shooters from all over the region. Roughly 72 shooters competed in the Crab Buckle this year, representing California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and even Canada.
“It was highly successful — even with the weather being the way that it was. We had 15 squads stick with us out of the 20 that signed up, so that was pretty good. Only five squads pulled out, but that is to be expected after the weather that we had on Friday,” said Del Norte Rod and Gun Club president Grant “Bud” Hoffman. “Saturday was just the pits. It was wet out and the wind really blew. I expected more people to pull out. We would have loved to have weather like we had on Monday, but everybody knows that it could rain sideways for the Crab Buckle Shoot — that is just the way that it is. Our hard core shooters dress for it and they shoot it. They don’t care.”
In addition to the high overall buckle, Robertson also won a buckle for shooting the best score in the toughest division — AA — in the doubles shoot. Other local event winners included Kearly Taylor (doubles, B division), Bret Nelson (doubles, C division), Tom Olsen (singles, Senior division and handicap 22-24.5), Tammy Wakefield (singles, C division), John Dercio (handicap 22-24.5) and Hoffman (singles, D division).
But the local shooters did more than just pick up wins in several events. Del Norte Rod and Gun Club members ended up shooting the highest overall score in four out of the five classes. Robertson shot more targets than anybody, regardless of division, while competing in the AA division. Derrico shot the top combined score in the B class, Wakefield won the C class, and Hoffman won the high overall in the D class.
“The local shooters took home a big bevy of buckles,” Hoffman said. “The regular PITA shooters in the club really did well, and they are the people who are doing a lot of the work to put everything on. It was really gratifying that we took home a bunch of buckles.”
While lots of locals fared well over the weekend, Robertson said the local shooters who earned buckles were not much of a surprise.
“We practice a lot. The old saying is that practice makes perfect, and it does — well most the time it does. Sometimes things just go wrong,” Robertson said. “But pretty much all of the local guys that won are out there every Sunday, then in the summer time we shoot on Sundays and Wednesdays. So some of us are shooting 20 boxes of ammo a week sometimes. Just like with anything, if you practice at it you are going to get good at it at some point in time. So the names of the people who won don’t really surprise me.”
But at the crab buckle specifically, sometimes it can be difficult for the local shooters who are distracted by their other duties as volunteers to help the shoot run smoothly.
Although Robertson finished with the top score, he may have been more busy than anyone at the shoot as the shoot master for the Crab Buckle.
“He ran the whole show — the shooting part of the event,” Robertson said. “He had to make sure we had all the scorekeepers, and we had loaders to load the targets in the house, make sure all the shooters get out there on the line when their turn is up, then when somebody breaks down he has to make sure they get their gun fixed within the time limit. So he was pretty busy.”
Robertson said he has been working to prepare for the event every day for more than a week, but by the time the shoot started he was surprised by how smoothly everything ran.
“Usually when I work I shot worse because I have to make sure that there are enough targets in the machines and everything else,” he said. “This year a lot of the volunteers took care of the other jobs so I didn’t have to worry about it.”
That allowed Robertson to focus a little more on the task at hand than he has in some past shoots at the local club.
“Trap shooting is mainly mental. It is about 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” Robertson said. “You pick the gun up and pull the trigger. Anybody can do that, but it is about focusing on that target, a lot of it is the way that you stand and how you call for the target. Sometimes things just freeze up on you and you just have to slow down, stop, take a breath and start over. If it was easy to do then everyone would do it. It’s the mental game. If you can get it in your head when it goes out there point at it and pull the trigger you would have no problem. But it’s the mental part, and trying not to think about it. You have to just shoot one target at a time.”
Robertson also said that good rain gear was also key over the weekend, with lots of precipitation throughout the event.
While Robertson has won the high overall crab buckle before, this was the first year that Hoffman has managed to shoot the high overall score in his class at the shoot after 15 years of competing.
“I always tell people that some shooters have been coming for 15 years and have never won one — well I was one of those people,” Hoffman said. “I’ve lost by one target numerous times. I have a friend that comes up from Sonoma County and he really gives it to me because he won one several years ago when he beat me by one target. He has been laying into me about it for the last four or five years — he has got to find something else now.”
Although the local winners were proud to have gained some bragging rights and some nifty hardware, the main attraction of the Crab Buckle Shoot is the atmosphere.
“It is all about the people and the camaraderie. My feeling is that when these people come to my club I want them to have a good feeling when they leave,” Robertson said. “I want them to think, ‘Hey that was pretty cool. You guys put on a nice shoot.’ Winning is great, but really it is the people. It is just fun. It’s a fun sport and you meet a lot of nice people. In this shoot we had a lot of nice people, and a lot of the shooters from out of the area were willing to help out.”
The Crab Buckle Shoot is also the main fundraiser for the year for the Del Norte Rod and Gun Club.
“We put everything we make back into the club for the shooters because it is their money,” Hoffman said. “We recently bought all new voice release radio controlled speakers that are state of the art. Last year we bought a new machine and this year we will have to look at how the finances come out, but we would like to buy another new machine.”
The Del Norte Rod and Gun Club is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m.
Overall Mac Robertson Crescent City 466
AA winner Bob Robertson Portland, 460
A winner Fred Hoven Cathlamet, Wash 456
B winner John Derrico Crescent City 445
C winner Tammy Wakefield Crescent City 437
Deborah Kelly Anacortes, Wash 437
D winner Bud Hoffman Crescent City 405
AA winner Mac Robertson Crescent City 97
A winner Tim Plagman Washougal, Wash 92
B winner Keary Taylor Brookings 91
C winner Bret Nelson Crescent City 77
D winner Deborah Kelly Anacortes, Wash 77
AA winner Brian Hazen Aldergrove, BC 100
A winner Cole Costanti Medford, Ore. 99
B winner Roy Widener Redding, Calif. 98
C winner Velma Thiel Keno, 99
D winner Lauren Plagman Washougal, Wash 97
Lady Karen Hogue Orovada, Nev. 98
Veteran Billy Myers Fortuna, Calif. 100
Senior Weldon Birch Oakley, Calif. 98
Tom Olsen Brookings 98
Junior Steven Ledendecker Medford 92
Champion Greg Deedon Redding 91
25-27 Fred Hoven Cathlamet, Wash 91
Jeff Stephens Sutherlin, 91
22-24.5 Tom Olsen Brookings 88
19-21.5 Deborah Kelly Anacortes, Wash. 90
AA winner Brian Hazen Aldergrove, B.C. 100
A winner Brad Eatmon Rocklin 98
B winner Dilyn Baumgardner North Bend, 96
C winner Tammy Wakefield Crescent City 96
D winner Bud Hoffman Crescent City 93
Lady Deborah Kelly Anacortes, Wash. 90
Veteran Billy Denham Bella Vista 94
Senior Weldon Birch Oakley, Calif. 98
Junior Cole Costanti Medford 95
Champion Zeb Kitchen Eagle Point 93
25-27 Bob Robertson Portland, 89
22-24.5 Billy Denham Bella Vista 91
John Derrico Crescent City 91
19-21.5 Deborah Kelly Anacortes, Wash. 86