Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Trap shooting hobby leads men to new challenges

When it comes to knocking clay pigeons out of the sky, Fred Hoven and John Didricksen are starting to get the hang of it.

The two Cathlamet men took up trap shooting eight and 10 years ago under the tutelege of the late Johnnie Ray Anderson. After his death, they began working with the Cathlamet FFA trap shooting team, one of Anderson's pet projects. Besides working with the high school shooters, they travel the West to compete with novices and masters.

"That's one of the great things about the sport," Didricksen said Tuesday. "You can be shooting with hall of famers and world champions."

The men are members of the Brownsmead Knappa Svensen Sportsmen's Club. They and another club member traveled to Del Norte, Calif., in January and came away with championship prize buckles for winning their divisions on a particular day.

"Alan Takkalo won on Friday; I won on Saturday, and Fred won on Sunday," Didricksen said.

Contestants will shoot at 100 discs in a day in four 25-target sessions. Didricksen knocked 97 targets to win his prize. In some contests, they'll shoot at one target in a turn, in others, they'll have two targets.

Shooters are rated and have handicaps. For instance, Didricksen competes in the C Division. When he was alive, Anderson was in the AA Division.

"It's a little different than duck hunting," Didricksen commented. The field guns are simple pieces with a different sight and fire powerful ammunition. The trap guns are more expensive with hydraulics and "built-in soft touch," Didricksen said. He uses an Italian shotgun which allows him to change from a single to a double, over and under barrel for shooting doubles.

Both men load their own ammunition, finding a balance between having enough power to down the targets but not so much that the gun beats them up by the end of the day. They head to the BKS range every Sunday for practice.

The men will compete in a large number of tournaments over the course of a year. The big one, they said, is at the Evergreen range southeast of Olympia near Little Rock.

"A lot of AAA shooters come to Evergreen," Didricksen said. "It's the biggest range west of the Mississippi."

Following Anderson's example, the men are coaching the Cathlamet FFA trap shooting team.

The FFA program started several years ago under the inspiration of Anderson and retired FFA Advisor John Doumit. They convinced the school board that the program would be safe and rewarding for youth.

"Safety is the main thing," Hoven said. Participants, both male and female, complete the state Hunter Safety Course, and they follow strict protocols in handling guns and ammunition.

"You don't have to be a jock to compete," Hoven said. "A person of any age can compete, and so can disabled persons."

The FFA team competes in contests in this area and in Eastern Washington, where the competition is keen. The team placed eighth in one state tournament, a major accomplishment, they said.

The team gets support from individuals, businesses and shooting clubs, they added, for the cost of ammunition can add up over the season.

"The Knappa club has donated lots of prizes and money to our program," Hoven commented. "They want to encourage the next generation to keep the sport alive. Knappa and Clatskanie schools won't allow trap shooting teams."

The biggest reward from the sport, the men said, is that participants develop relationships with each other.

"In our travels, we get to meet AAA title holders," Didricksen said. "At tournaments, they'll pull you aside and give you tips. They're very helpful."

"The people are so nice," Hoven said. "They keep in touch with each other."


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