Waverly Skeet Shooting team reflects on state championship season

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 10:40 PM EDT
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WAVERLY, N.Y. (WBNG) - This is the field of state champions. There are no bleachers, no press box, no PA announcer. Instead its quiet. Until someone yells “Pull” followed by a gunshot.

That’s the sound of the state title winning Waverly Skeet Shooting team. The squad is comprised of boys and girls ranging from seniors in high school all the way to 7th graders.

“I saw the poster, I wanted to try something new and I automatically ripped the poster off the hallway wall and when I got home that day I was like ‘Mom and Dad I want to try this.’ And I’ve never shot a gun in my life so it kind of surprised them but I’m glad I got into it,” said Waverly 7th grader Serenity Relyea.

The club team began in 2019 and is governed by the USA Clay Target League. After a successful first year the team had an extended break as both their 2020 and 2021 seasons were cancelled because of COVID.

But coming back this year the team didn’t miss a beat. They won their five-week regular season before traveling up to the Dewitt for the state tournament. There not only did the team finish first, but senior Cayden Turcsik won an individual gold. A full-circle moment after he finished 2nd as a freshman and came into this tournament determined to end his career right.

“Trying to blow everybody out of the water. That was my mindset. Just to watch my freshman year after I went up there and shot. Just seeing everybody else kind of win everything,” said Turcsik. “You know it kinda of gets your mind right to not just yourself winning but I just want to see the team do great.”

While the quiet of skeet shooting can be helpful for focusing on that motivation it can also lead to athletes getting into their own heads.

“The thing about skeet, it’s all instinct shooting. It’s not like target shooting. So it’s hard to get the kids to not think too much. Once they stop thinking and just shoot with hand-eye coordination they get it,” explained head coach Ben Hettinger.

And helping kids unlock that ability is what drives these coaches.

“The best is always when a kid gets it. Like our seventh graders. They struggle for a couple weeks and all of a sudden they just realize it. Once you get it you can work on it,” said Hettinger.

For most that practice of state champions is almost too quiet to notice. Except for those two sounds.

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