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Shell games

[Times photos: Scott Keeler]
More than 1,000 shooters from the United States and Canada compete in the Southern Satellite Grand American trapshooting tournament in Odessa.

By SCOTT KEELER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 8, 2002

Lee Owens, an employee of the Silver Dollar Shooting Club, rakes up a colorful pile of shotgun shell hulls.
More than 1,000 shooters from the United States and Canada are participating in the 22nd annual Southern Grand Satellite Grand American trapshooting competition at the Silver Dollar Shooting Club on Patterson Road in Odessa. The seven-day tournament runs through Sunday.

The tournament, sanctioned by the Amateur Trapshooting Association of Vandalia, Ohio, includes events where competitors shoot clay targets standing at distances from 16 to 27 yards from the point at which the target is thrown. Targets are launched at varying angles by an automatic trap machine that is voice-activated by the shooter. Competitors are judged by the percentage of targets they hit.

J.P. Marsala holds a handful of shotgun ammunition used in the competition.
Neil Massie, manager of the Silver Dollar Shooter Club, says shooters enjoy competing because of the camaraderie of the group. "Many of us grew up as hunters and we enjoy shooting shotguns, so our attention is now a clay target," he said. "You'll find people from all walks of life and backgrounds here; from millionaires to auto mechanics."

J.P. Marsala of Odessa is a member of the club who helps with the competition. He said he hopes more people will get interested in the sport of trapshooting. "One thing about this sport is you can be a rank amateur and stand next to a champion shooter and compete," Marsala said. "Try doing that in golf."

Mike Battista, 56, a retired police officer from Washington who lives in Tarpon Springs, reloads his gun during Wednesday's competition.

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