HORICON — Beaver Dam High School sophomore Ashley Blatz has had quite the summer – living through the COVID-19 pandemic while trying to find every opportunity to practice the sport she loves.
Blatz is a member of the junior varsity Beaver Dam trapshooting team, which had its season cancelled during the spring because of the ongoing pandemic.
However, Blatz still found ways to get some practice in in preparation for the Scholastic Clay Target Program National Tournament, which was held July 11-18. The hard work paid off for Blatz because she finished second in the handicap trap event with a score of 168 out of 200.
“The biggest thing I saw was the fact she was still willing to go down there with the limited amount of shooting we were able to do,” Beaver Dam Trap Club coach Jerry Queisser said, while also mentioning he couldn’t attend this year’s tournament in Marengo, Ohio, because of COVID-19. “Then to have the success that we did. She improved her scores in every event except one over last year. With something that big, that’s something you hope for, which is to get better from year to year.”
Blatz said a big key for her was that she was able to get over her fears before competition began.
“Oh gosh yes. There were lots of nerves and lots of thinking too,” she said. “I’m not supposed to think so much about it.”
Queisser said once the Beaver Dam Conservationists Club opened up in the last week of April, members of the Beaver Dam trap team came out to practice throughout May and June. Blatz said the team started out having practices on Saturdays and once the stay at home order was lifted in late-May, the team decided to have regular practices Tuesdays and Thursdays. Blatz said she was also shooting in league play in June on Wednesday nights against other squads.
“I was shooting five or six extra rounds a night to really get prepared,” Blatz said. “I was shooting 300 rounds a day.”
Blatz finished 16th in the skeet event with a 161, which was 52 points better than last year’s score. She took 17th in the 16-yard trap with a 182 and 12th in doubles with a 150. She also participated in the sporting clays event which she scored a 104, improving from last year’s score of 62.
“I’ve been shooting a lot better than last year, so I thought I was going to get better scores,” Blatz said. “I guess it turned out OK.”
Blatz has been participating in trap shooting for the last three years and she said she’s improved immensely. When she first started out she would average shooting eight to 12 birds (also known as orange clays) out of 25 attempts. Now she is averaging anywhere from 18-20 birds out of 25.
“The biggest improvement is mental,” Queisser said. “Once you get through the first year, you learn how to break a target. Once you’re able to do it, it’s being able to replicate it shot after shot after shot, and keeping out of your head, being able to focus on the mechanics, and not be thinking about problems with this target (or) I hope it doesn’t go this way or I’ve shot 20 in a row and all I need is five more to have a perfect score. You’ve got to block that out and shoot one bird at a time.”
Queisser said he first noticed the determination in Blatz last year when at a tournament at the Horicon Rod & Gun Club, she didn’t perform to her standards and was upset with herself.
“I saw the potential early on,” he said. “She was pretty emotional about it and we just sat up on the deck for 15 to 20 minutes just talking about other stuff, trying to figure it out. That’s when I really saw the drive to be successful and to be competitive no matter who she’s shooting against.
Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.
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