Big Shots: Arlington HS Trap Team Clinches Fifth National Title

Bolton HS Claims Second Place

2014 Arlington Trappers.  (Photo courtesy of Arlington Trappers.)

2014 Arlington Trappers. Members (in alphabetical order): Justin Black, Grant Boyd, Jacob Brockwell, Thomas Burton, Michael Calise, Kyle Carpenter, Nicolas Carter, Ryan Correll, Mason Cowing, Bailey Cummings, Eric Donahue, Arron Fleet, Reagan Foster, Olivia-Ann Goodman, Robert Gorman, Cody Grantham, Wesley Gray, Matthew Hammett, Davis Hein, Andrew Johnson, Joseph King, Shannon McNeely, Michael Mitchell, Joshua Parisotto, Natalie Richmond, Zachary Runyon, Amilya Schultz, Christian Smith, Danny Storey, Russell Wainwright, Dalton Wing, Jacob Young, Parker Zimmerman Photo courtesy of Arlington Trappers.

After tens of thousands of shots, it all came down to just five targets separating the first and second place high school trap shooting programs in the country. Well, five targets and a little more than eight miles.

The top two teams in the 16 yard trap event at the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) National Team Championships, were the Arlington HS Trappers, hitting 967 targets and the Bolton HS Trap Team hitting 962. Teams came from 28 states to the event held at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois, and the best came not only from the same county, but from the same zip code.

After winning five national championships since its beginnings in 2005—and three in the past four years—the Arlington Trappers have become a powerhouse in trap shooting. The Trappers have never finished lower than in second place at Nationals.

Arlington Trappers coach Kermit Simons, a former Marine Corp shooter, credits the consistent success of the team to his perspective as coach. Simons maintains that he has four goals as a coach–first to build better young men and women; next, to keep them “as safe as if they were his own children.”  Thirdly, he aims to make them better shooters, and lastly—which happens if you do the first three, Simons explains—is to win competitions.

Arlington Trapper Natalie Richmond with her individual Third Place medal.  Photo courtesy of Arlington Trappers.

Arlington Trapper Natalie Richmond with her individual Third Place medal for 16 Yard Trap. Richmond also competed on the National Championship Trap squad and 3rd place Pistol squad. Photo courtesy of Arlington Trappers.

And win they do. Arlington Trapper Natalie Richmond’s score of 194 earned her third place in the nation for 16 yard trap. As well, in just their first year with a pistol program, the team competed at the Scholastic Pistol Program Junior/Senior National Championships, also held last weekend. They promptly finished in third place in the senior rimfire division. According to Simons, theirs was the highest score for a team that did not specialize in pistols.

Also in pistols, Trappers Cody Grantham and Danny Story “set the standard” for speed and accuracy, Simons said. Each shooter hit five targets in less than two seconds. Grantham’s time of 1.6 seconds was the lowest of the event.

Simons—the winningest coach in Tennessee—retired from coaching the Arlington Trappers at the conclusion of the SCTP Team Nationals.  The new head coach of the Arlington Trappers is Robert Gorman, a three-year assistant coach with the program.

Just ten minutes away from Arlington, Bolton HS Trap Team head coach Keith Fenwick has rebuilt a team with only two returning shooters in 2011 into one competing—and winning—at the national level. Fenwick is in just his third year as head coach of the Bolton Trap Team. In addition to finishing second in the 16 yard trap, the Bolton team finished first in two other events which debuted this year in Illinois: Trap Handicap, which is shot from 25 yards, and Trap Doubles, which requires the shooter to hit two clay targets in each pull.

The Bolton Trap Team also had six students named to the 2014 SSSF/National Rifle Association All-Scholastic Team: Austin Ainsworth, Griffin Black, Lawrence Cooper, Peyton Deane, Tristian Fenwick, Andrew Meier, and Garrett Percer. To be considered for the All-Scholastic Team, SCTP and SPP athletes were required to have a 3.0 grade point average in the 2013-2014 school year, meet shooting qualifications of 190/200 SCTP targets in a competition in the current season or achieve a match score of 75 seconds or less in SPP, and have letters of recommendation.

Fenwick believes that the high level of competition among area high school teams benefits everyone. “We’re all trying to catch the Arlington team,” he jokes, adding that “Arlington has pushed everyone to be better. They deserve the credit for making us all work harder.”



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