Sights set on skeet world championships

Local skeet shooter having a spectacular season

  • Aug. 27, 2015 8:00 p.m.

Local skeet shooter Lisa Cunningham is preparing for the world championships

Earle Couper

Record staff

Lisa Cunningham had her sights set on earning High Overall Lady when she went to this year’s Canadian Open Skeet Championships.

She far exceeded that high expectation.

“My goal was to be High Lady. I managed that very, very well,” Cunningham understated of her performance at the July 3-5 event in Kanata, Ont. “In 2013 I lost by two targets. This year I won by over 24 targets.

“I had some personal bests there. The goal was High Lady, I ended up getting that plus High Overall in C class and High All Around in C class,” she said, explaining that High Overall is the three shotgun gauges (12, 20 and 28) and .410 bore while High All Around is the same plus doubles.

“That was really good,” Cunningham added.

Also really good was her showing at the B.C. Provincial Championships, June 19-20 at the Vancouver Gun Club, where she had C class wins in 12 gauge, doubles and .410.

On Aug. 7-9, the Courtenay Fish & Game Protective Association hosted the Zone 8 Shoot, which serves as a qualifier for the World Championships.

“That was another really awesome shoot. I had a very, very strong squad. I came out of that one with class wins in B class — we’re moving up here — in 20 gauge and 28. I walked out with High Overall and High All Around in C class,” Cunningham said.

Those results more than qualified her to go to the Worlds, her sixth, Sept. 25 through Oct. 2 in San Antonio, Tex.

Reflecting on her accomplishments, Cunningham said, “It’s just been a really powerful year this year. I think the seven years of experience is all finally coming together. Whenever you go to a big competition you’re always learning something. You’re watching the top guys, and it’s like, ‘How does he do that? Well, that makes sense.’

“It’s like when you first start shooting and this guy’s telling you to do this and another guy’s telling you to do this, and you take a little bit of everything and you bring it into your own style. We’re all very, very different (in shooting styles),” Cunningham said.

While experience is a great teacher, Cunningham feels she is definitely in the zone this year. “I’m seeing the targets well. It sounds kind of weird, but you can slow down the speed of the target. It’s just really coming together. I’m feeling very positive about the world.”

Cunningham is determined to carry her focus up to the next level of competition.

“As a result of the Zone 8 shoot now I’m in B class right across the board. It’s like starting all over again.”

(After B class there is A and then AA class).

“It’s scary,” she said of going to the Worlds and competing in the higher class.

But she is also looking forward to it.

“I would like to shoot consistently in the 90s (out of 100). That would be a very good goal for me. Everything over and above 95 is pretty much gravy, so 90 to 95, that’s my goal.”

It will be Cunningham’s first shoot south of the border this year as the currency exchange rate has kept her from going to the United States to shoot.

“It’s just way too expensive. I really enjoy shooting in the States. The clubs down there have paid positions, they’re not just small clubs depending on volunteers to run everything. You are catered to, you are definitely catered to: ‘Oh, you don’t have to pull your own targets.’ ‘Don’t worry about picking up anything, that’s our job.’ It’s really nice,” Cunningham said.

Things only get nicer at the Worlds as the National Shooting Complex is 600-plus acres with 45 trap and skeet fields.

“The facility is amazing,” said Cunningham, adding that like everything else in Texas, “It’s big, really big.”

Cunningham has plenty of time to practise before the Worlds, and also one more shoot in September with the South Vancouver Island Rangers in Sooke.

She’s usually at the Fish and Game Club three days a week honing her skills.

“I easily shoot 100 to 150 rounds every time I’m out there. It depends what you’re working on. You don’t want to practise so hard that you burn out. When you go to practice you’ve got a goal; ‘OK, this is what we’re going to work on today.’”

Helping her to practise and compete is Dan Boudreau of Gone Fishin’, who provides her “a real good deal” on ammunition.

Her other sponsors are Joint Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre (“Special thanks to owner Eddy Betinol”) and B.D. Mitchell Prosthetics & Orthotics Services.

With 800 shooters at the Worlds you’re always meeting new people, and Cunningham is also looking forward to renewing old acquaintances.

“This will be my second year I’ve been asked to shoot with an all-Canadian squad. They’re all from Ontario, and they’re like A and AA shooters. It was really nice to be asked by them last year and then to be asked back to shoot on their squad is very pleasing,” Cunningham said.

“The first three years I went down to Worlds I just put in my registration as an individual shooter and they put you with squads. I’ve been very lucky that my squads have been really, really good. You have a rhythm to your shooting. That’s why we tend to squad with the same people (who) have the same rhythm. If you’ve got a really slow shooter it really throws your game off. Skeet is 10 per cent physical and 90 per cent mental. You want to get rid of any outside distractions.”

Cunningham notes there are five shooters per squad, with scores counted individually, not as a group. She said U.S. shooters dominate the competition, with perfect scores of 100 not uncommon.

“They make it look easy, but you know how much work goes into it. The time and the effort.”

This is Cunningham’s eighth year of shooting and seventh year of competing, and she sees no end in sight.

“I’ve been involved in sports my whole life, but I’ve never had a passion for something as much as this,” she said.

She got into the sport through the BC Wildlife Federation’s Becoming an Outdoor Woman program, and this year she taught the program in Cowichan.

“That was kind of cool, from being introduced to the sport to teaching it,” she said.“Unfortunately it was trap shooting and I’m a terrible trap shooter,” she added, laughing.

There are skeet shooting videos posted on YouTube (including the 2014 Worlds), and anyone who would like to try skeet (or trap) can do so at the Courtenay Fish and Game Club on Thursdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call the club (250-338-9122) for details.

 

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