Cunningham wins doubles title at world skeet championships

Seeing double was a good thing for Lisa Cunningham at the 76th annual National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) World Championships.

LISA CUNNINGHAM WON the D division doubles title at the world skeet championships

LISA CUNNINGHAM WON the D division doubles title at the world skeet championships

 

Seeing double was a good thing for Lisa Cunningham at the 76th annual National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) World Championships.

Competing on the opening day (Sept. 30) of the week-long event the Comox Valley sharpshooter scored 88 out of 100 then won a shoot-off to capture first place in the D division of the doubles category.

It was the second straight year Cunningham has attended the world championships, which were again held at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Tex.

Last year she and her Browning 525 shotgun won two medals by placing in the 12- and 20-gauge categories. She did not compete in doubles in 2010 but did so this year because, “I love doubles. It’s so much fun. You’ve got two birds coming at the same time (one from the left and one from the right; one high and one low). Because it’s going so fast you don’t have time to think.”

Cunningham and Richard Haas both scored 88 to set up their shoot-off showdown later in the day. The waiting was definitely the hardest part, as the shoot-off ended quickly.

“It was a very long day. We had to wait and wait” for the shoot-off, which finally got underway at 7:30 p.m. “Mr. Haas showed up in a wheelchair, and I thought ‘Hmmm, he’s handicapped and I’m handicapped (amputee), so let’s see where this goes,’’’ Cunningham said.

“He went first and hit his high bird but missed his low bird. All I had to do was hit both my birds and I’d won. I do that and everybody’s ‘Oh, congratulations!’ and I was thinking, ‘That can’t be it. I’ve got a whole box of shells in my pocket, there’s got to be more. But that was it,” she said of the sudden death shoot-off. “It was kind of a letdown.”

Things didn’t improve at the medal ceremony, where Cunningham was awarded a pin – with a trap field instead of a skeet field on it – rather than a medal. “If you win your class you should get something better than a pin,” Cunningham said.

Despite those details, Cunningham enjoyed her time at the championships. Her 88 was her best doubles score ever: “I was happy with that,” she said. She was also close to her averages in her other events, but the competition was tough. “I shot 93 in one class but if I had 98 I wouldn’t have won. The guy who won had 99.”

The scores weren’t the only thing in the 90s. The National Shooting Complex is an outdoor facility, and Cunningham said it was very, very hot. “Two mornings were comfortable. The rest of the time it was between 86 and 92 degrees – 92 is 33 Celsius, but the humidity was in the mid to high 90s. I don’t think I’ve ever drank so much water,” said Cunningham, adding it was unusual to be wearing shorts and a tank top in early October.

Making things more interesting was a not-so-gentle breeze. “Doubles was an extremely windy day. Depending on which way it was blowing, the wind could drive the high birds very fast into the ground whereas the low birds were kind of hanging up there. Your whole rhythm is out. And a big part of doubles is getting that rhythm.”

Cunningham’s mother and sister accompanied her on this year’s trip, and she said three of the competitors she met at last year’s worlds came to watch her shoot-off. “There’s that little family thing … it was exciting to have them there.”

Meeting people from all over the world is part of the attraction of attending the championships. While scores are kept individually, shooters compete in groups of five. “This year the other fellows in my squad were from South Africa,” Cunningham noted.

She said she plans to return to the world championships next year for another go at the doubles, and adds some of her club mates from the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association may accompany her.

She said having a world-class shooting facility such as the one at the local fish and game club definitely helps her prepare for the worlds.

Anyone interested in skeet can drop by the club on Thursdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and ask for Tom Walker. Instructors are usually on site.

sports@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

 

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