by Nan Royce
HOWARD LAKE Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School junior Jacob Gallus has developed a high level of skill in a popular sport played around the world, and even at the Olympic level.
HLWW’s trap team is relatively new. It is in its third year and it is coming on strong.
Oct. 18, Gallus achieved a new personal best. He shot a “straight 50,” meaning he nailed 50 clay pigeons in a row. That earned the sharp-shooter a special “50-straight” patch.
Team coach Gary Schmidt confirmed Gallus was the first person on the HLWW team to achieve that milestone.
“We have had many close, with 48s and 49s, but he is the first to get it,” Schmidt stated. “I am hoping that this spring, when we go to the state qualifier in Alexandria, he can achieve a 75-and a 100-straight patch to add to his collection.”
Gallus, himself, seemed pretty calm about his achievement.
Sport started at home
Gallus used to shoot trap from time to time when he was younger.
“I got started in trapshooting because we used to do a little bit with my family,” he said, “I wanted to try it when I heard about the high school league.”
Gallus joined the HLWW clay target team during its first season three years ago.
He makes it sound simple
Gallus claimed his shooting process is “pretty simple.”
Here’s how he describes his technique.
“I first get up to the firing line and set my feet so that my posture is ‘open’ and I can turn freely,” he stated. “Then, I try to get into the ‘zone,’ which is basically just having a blank mind, and thinking about nothing except breaking the next target.”
From there, Gallus said, he just lets all his hours of practice take over.
“Then, my body knows where to fire,” he said, “so I just let my muscle memory take the shot.”
Gallus said not every part of learning the sport was effortless.
“The hardest part to learn was to put the hard right and left shots to muscle memory,” he stated. “Most of the rest came naturally, and apparently, I’ve always known how to shoot trap, even though I hadn’t done it much before.”
He credits several people for their assistance. He said assistant coach Jason Babatz taught him something that upped his game considerably.
“Coach Babatz corrected my follow-through,” Gallus said, “which means that I was just pulling my head away from the firearm too quickly, which could cause me to miss.”
Gallus indicated he has had a lot of help learning trap shooting skills since he first became interested in the sport.
“All the advice I’ve received throughout the years came together to complete the puzzle,” he commented.
The day of the 50
Gallus did admit to a few nervous moments toward the end of the competition in which he earned his 50.
He was cool, calm, and collected most of the time, until right before taking that last shot. The big number 50.
“I was having a really hard time staying concentrated on the last shot, and my heart was beating like crazy,” he remembered. “I was just hoping that I wouldn’t miss.”
“When I took the shot and saw the clay break, it felt like a boulder had been lifted off my back,” he said.
No “I” in TEAM
Following Gallus’ successful successive 50th shot, many were eager to compliment his achievement.
“After that (final shot) there was a bunch of hand-shaking and congratulatory remarks,” he recalled.
And while he was thrilled to shoot his team’s first 50, he would have been just as happy had the honor gone to someone else.
“I can think back to looking left and right, and knowing that I’m competing with the people around me, but also hoping that they’re the one to do it,” he said.
Gallus’s future is anything he chooses to make it. “ I probably won’t go into pro trap past high school,” he said. “But you never know.”
The HLWW fall 2017 Clay Target Team
Coach Gary Schmidt