The targets continued to fly out of the trap just in front of each shooter, despite the sun sinking.
The South River Gun Club’s lights came on, helping the 2012 Georgia Trapshoot Championships go into the night.
Then, just after 9 p.m., Michael Wasielewski missed the first target of the shootout and James Ray Grimes clinched the singles title.
It was the only finish below first place in the five events Wasielewski entered — all the rest were victories — giving the Newton County resident seventh all around win since 1988.
As the 2013 Georgia Trapshoot Championship began Thursday, Wasielewski was trying to make up for that one missed target and grab his five titles, something that hasn’t been done. The annual event continues through Sunday with the doubles competition taking place today, singles Saturday and state doubles, state handicap and all around Sunday at the South River Gun Club.
When it comes to Trapshoot, Wasielewski is used to doing what hasn’t been done. In 1988, he set the record for most targets broken, a record no one has been able to touch in the 25 years since.
While he has won titles several times before, Wasielewski, unfortunately, is forced to do something this year he hasn’t done before. His wife of 27 years, Mary, passed away in 2012, and for the first time won’t be there to support Wasielewski and be what he stated in the 2013 Trapshoot program was his “wife, friend, soul mate and best shooting coach ever.”
“It’s going to be hard without her,” Wasielewski said. “Whether that’s going to affect my shooting or not, you don’t know.”
Trapshoot is mostly a mental game, one Wasielewski has been developing for more than four decades.
Since entering the sport competitively in the 1970s, he has been able to focus on each target, leading to a storied career with state wins in both Georgia and Wisconsin, where he was born.
“Sure, you’ve got to be physically able to pick up a 10-pound gun 2(00), 3(00), 400 times in one day and that’s a lot physically,” Wasielewski said. But it’s the mental aspect, you have to concentrate on watching the target. A lot of people say it’s 80-90 percent mental.”
Each Trapshooter gets a box of 25 targets, firing out of the oscillating trap, going through 100 targets.
Then they switch traps and shoot 100 more in the same fashion. For doubles, the trap, which differs from skeet because it’s in front of the shooter, rather than two houses to the side of the shooter, doesn’t oscillate and is set to spit out two targets in opposite directions.
Trapshooting has been a sport since the late 18th century and was introduced in the Olympics in 1990. Its popularity has grown to the point that about 300 shooters each day and spectators are expected to attend the state championship at the South River Gun Club, with its recreational vehicle lot filling up Wednesday.
Wasielewski joined the sport long before the Newton County gun club started hosting the event, when his father picked up the sport. When Wasielewski was home for leave from the Air Force, he went with his dad and some friends, and then picked up shooting at the Air Force’s skeet range in North Africa. After he got out of the Air Force, he continued in the sport.
After entering Trapshooting competitions starting in the ’70s, Wasielewski won the Milwaukee state championship, and was on the state team before his job installing machine tools allowed him to move closer to Mary’s parents, who lived in Pine Mountain. In 1989, the Wasielewskis built a house in the Stonecreek subdivision and have been in Newton County and Covington ever since.
Wasielewski currently works part time at a gun shop in McDonough, but his main interest is keeping his shotgun pointed at the target, and his eye on another state championship.