Nick Riedlinger first competed in trap shooting last year, but in a couple of weeks, he will be search of his second state championship.
The soon-to-be Upper Sandusky High School senior competed in the Ohio State Championship last summer and his squad took first place.
“You have five people in a squad and in a competition, you total everyone’s score (after two rounds of 100 shots each),” Riedlinger said. “Whichever squad hits the most targets wins.”
Of the 147-squad competition at the Cardinal Center in Marengo, his squad posted a 947, while the second-place squad finished with a 945.
Riedlinger’s squad is from Jaqua’s Fine Guns, Inc., of Findlay, and despite entering the championship as the B-squad, they defeated even their own A-squad counterparts during that competition.
“We have three senior squads,” Riedlinger said. “The A-squad is the highest. I’m on the B-squad and we typically shoot in the high 80s or low 90s. The C-squad is some of the newer or not-so-good people and they usually hit targets in the 60s or 70s.
“We do technically compete against our A-squad, but we focus on competing with squads from other clubs,” he added. “We had a good day, so we actually did beat our top squad that day.”
Being the only Upper Sandusky resident on his team, he joins up with teammates Matt, Tad and Casey, all from Findlay, and Marissa, of Arlington.
While Riedlinger said only three of the 15 squad members are females, that does not mean they can not hold their own.
“Guns are more of a guy sport the way it is, but the girls also enjoy it and some of them do very well,” he said. “I’ve been beaten by a girl. There are some days Marissa and I will compete against one another, just because we’re both very good. Some days I’ll hit a 94 and she’ll hit a 95 and next week I may beat her.”
While he already has achieved success in such a short amount of time, it took Riedlinger a while to do so.
“When I started out last year, I’d be lucky to break 65 out of 100,” he said. “I started competition-style last year, but I began it through Wyandot County Pheasants Forever. … I had hunted as a kid, but this was something totally new. It took me probably about a good 100 shells before I broke my first target. … Last weekend I broke 94 out of 100.”
He also ended the season at a 94 percent clip.
When shooting, Riedlinger said marksman have anywhere from one to five seconds to hit their targets, but says when one shoots is all about preference.
“You don’t recognize time when you’re shooting; you’re only thinking of shooting the target, nothing else,” he said. “Your main goal is trying to break every target. Some people will shoot as soon as it’s out of the house; others like to watch the target before they shoot it. I don’t shoot super fast or super slow. I have my comfort zone and that’s where I shoot.
“Trap shooting is mental and how alert you are,” Riedlinger added. “If the night before a shoot you’re up until 2 a.m., you probably won’t shoot that great. It’s almost all in your head.”
During competitions, shooters stand 16 yards away, although handicaps can be added and marksman can move back as far as 27 yards from the trap house.
While shooting, Riedlinger uses a BT-99.
“It’s a competition starter gun, but some of the pros use BTs,” he said. “They’re really easy to modify and easy to work with. The high price guns have pretty wood and you don’t want to cut that up. You want a gun that fits you.”
Riedlinger will be taking that gun with him to a competition in Findlay this weekend before making another state appearance the weekend following.
By PATRICK MASSARA