Gene Chague: Be proud of U.S. Olympic shooting medalists

Sunday August 19, 2012


It is quite refreshing these days to read about shooters in a positive way. I am referring to U.S. Olympic skeet shooters Kim Rhode, Jamie Lynn Gray, Vincent Hancock and Matt Emmons.

Rhode is the first American to win medals in five straight Olympics. She won her gold medal by scoring 99 out of 100 shots earning the pride and admiration of our nation. The International Shooting Sport Federation dubs her the most successful shotgun shooter of all time.

She says her grandfather was a houndsman who taught her father how to shoot. He and her mom, in turn, taught Kim. She started out shooting in the NRA youth shooting programs, shooting in the 3-position rifle, winning all of the different badges. She is still a proud member of the NRA.

She took up shotgun shooting and progressed to sportsmen club shoots, state competitions, national competitions and finally to the Olympics.

In 1996, at the age of 16, Rhode became the youngest person to ever represent the USA in the sport of shooting in the Olympics. Then she became the youngest female athlete to win a gold medal in shooting in the history of the Olympics. She is the only athlete to have ever competed in all three shotgun events (skeet, trap and double trap).

In skeet, shooters fire from eight different stations positioned around a half-circle. The targets cross in front of the shooters from either side of the front of the half-circle. On some stations, shooters fire at one target flying from the left, and another flying from the right. On other stations, they have to shoot at two targets that fly from both directions at the same time.

Trap shooters stand at one of five stations located on a much narrower arc behind a single hidden thrower. From there, they fire at targets that zip away at unpredictable angles. In double trap, two targets are thrown from an underground bunker at speeds up to 50 mph. Each competitor fires one shot per target.

Hancock, a U.S. Army sergeant, won a second consecutive Olympic gold medal in men's skeet shooting, becoming the first U.S. man to win skeet events in consecutive Olympics. He hit 148 of 150 targets throughout the two-day competition, including 25 of 25 in the final round to win the gold. At 23, Hancock was the youngest competitor in the medal-round qualifiers, who ranged from ages 28 to 43.

In the 50-meter three-position rifle competition, thyroid cancer survivor Emmons took a medal. He nearly blew it on his last shot but ended up with the bronze.

In the women's 50m rifle 3 positions, Gray set a new Olympic record with a final score of 691.9, shortly after setting an Olympic record in qualifying, at 592 -- just two points shy of tying the world record. This is the first gold medal for Gray.

The U.S. men's archery team of Jake Kaminski, Brady Ellison and Jacob Wukie earned a silver medal. They almost won the gold, but were edged out by the Italians 219-218.

Incidentally, there are a couple of youth shooting and archery clubs here in the Berkshires that keep the shooting traditions alive. The October Mountain Sharpshooters (Lenox Sportsmen's Club affiliation) and the Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club are two of them. The instructors are to be commended for their work with the youngsters. Who knows? Maybe someday we will see one of our local shooters in the Olympics, too.


Have you seen purple traps in your neighborhood trees and wondered what it is all about? I wondered, too, and got the following information from the Internet.

The emerald ash borer (EAB) trap is a three-dimensional triangle or prism. It's made out of thin, corrugated, purple plastic that has been coated with non-toxic glue on all three sides. The purple prisms are about 24 inches long and hang vertically in an ash tree or are secured to the trunk of a tree. To increase the attractiveness of the trap to the beetles, it is baited with a lure (Manuka oil).

The emerald ash borer is a wood boring beetle first found in southeast Michigan nine years ago. Ever since, it has been detected in many other states, including the nearby Catskills in New York. EAB is a serious pest to the ash trees, as the adult beetles feed on the tree's foliage and the larvae feed on the inner bark of the trees, creating S-shaped tunnels that damage the vascular tissues under the bark. Of course, the ash trees die.

Scientists have found that buprestids (the insect family to which EAB belongs) in general are more attracted to red and purple hues compared to other colors. Researchers initiated a study using a variety of red and purple traps to determine which trap attracted the most beetles; the purple trap achieved the best results.

To improve the purple traps' attractiveness to EAB adults, they are baited with oil from the Manuka tree. Researchers found that there are four active compounds in Manuka oil that are also produced when an ash tree is stressed. Researchers also discovered there was an EAB antennal response to these compounds. In field tests when baited traps and non-baited traps were compared, traps baited with Manuka oil attracted more beetles than traps that were not baited.

The purple traps help detect emerald ash borers. A trap located in your community does not mean the insect is present; it means they are looking for the beetle. The goal is to define the leading edge of the infested area and to locate new outlying EAB infestations. Campers and others are urged not to transport ash wood from one area to another, as it could help spread the range of the insect.


This month's Tri-State 3D Archery Shoots will be held at the Lenox Sportsmen's Club next Sunday. They run from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact Brian Vincent at (413) 443-2098.

To reach Gene Chague:,
(413) 637-1818.


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