Parquets are competition trap shooting family

What began as accepting a casual invitation to experience what trap shooting was all about has grown to become a family hobby.

Tom and Mary Parquet and their daughter, Kristi, are now regular competitors in league and in registered trap shooting ... to the point that the family shot just over 12,000 shells last summer. Still, that is little compared with one South Dakota competitive shooter who fired 13,200 shells in 2004, just in competition. “We have no desire to do that,” said Tom and Mary.

About 10 years ago, friend Larry Cvach (whose family has three generations of trap shooters) and some former students invited Midland teacher Tom Parquet to give it a try and shoot a little at the Kadoka Trap Shooting League. Tom had previously shot competition rifle and had coached BB-gun competition. After some experience at trap-shooting, he soon began competing. The next year, Kristi began as well. The following year, Mary was also a competitor. Tom said, “Pretty much, my wife couldn’t take just watching us have all the fun.”

“The original reason for me learning to shoot was to hunt pheasants,” said Mary, also a teacher in Midland, “but I just didn’t enjoy that – not my thing. With trap shooting I get to shoot, but don’t have to kill anything.” After competing in registered shoots for five years, Mary is now the number-two-rated women’s handicap shooter in South Dakota, according to the “2004 Amateur Trap Association” national publication.

“The neatest thing is you can have a 12-year-old and a 75-year-old on the same squad,” Mary explained. “Kristi, now a junior in college, knows so many people whom she would not have even met except for trap shooting.”

Tom agreed. “From eight to 80; it’s a good family sport.”

Like many competitive activities, trap shooting has different classes and categories. A singles shoot has a person competing in grade D, C, B, A or AA. Some shoots are big enough to attract the AAA people who average 98 or 99 hits per 100 targets (birds). There are only two South Dakotans with this “All American Team” status. Tom is in the B class in singles and the C class in doubles. Doubles is not partners, it is one person shooting at two birds thrown at the same time. Neither Mary nor Kristi shoot doubles.

“Handicap shooting is an even playing field,” said Mary. “Everyone is based off of a line 16 yards back. If someone can shoot an average, of say 22 hits out of 25, then they stand at the 24 yard line (the number of average hits plus 2).”

Also in registered shoots, the better competitors are required to stand back farther. The goal is to eventually reach the 27 yard line. Tom’s current registered shooter card is punched indicating that he stands at the 22 yard mark.

Also, like most sports, the expenses for trap shooting are variable. For the Kadoka league shoot the cost is $3 per round – that is per 25 shots (one box). For most registered shoots the entry fee is $18 per event – that is per 100 shots.

Shotguns may be almost any gauge and model, but most competitors use single-shot shotguns for singles competition and use over/under or semi-auto shotguns for doubles. The Parquets know of only one man who uses a pump. Tom uses a 12-gauge combo – a gun that has a separate single-barrel and a separate over/under attachment. Mary uses a single-shot 12 gauge, while Kristi uses a left-hand 12-gauge semi-automatic. While some people use common models such as Browning or Remington, serious competitors use models such as Beretta, Ljutic, Perazzi and Krieghoff. These can cost $10,000 or more. With their frequent competitive use, even the top-line guns are overhauled every three to four years. Commonly, trap-shooting guns have a higher sighting rib than hunting shotguns.

Shells of any reloading quality are kept by the competitors. If a spent shell hits the ground, then it belongs to the club. “I grew up reloading,” admits Tom. Tom and Kristi both reload while Mary boxes. There are 25 shells per box and 10 boxes per case. “We took 2,700 shells to the State Shoot. We came back with less than 250 unspent shells. Empties carry back into the house far easier than those live ones.”

Shoots take place during dry or rainy weather, but not during lightning storms.

“Trap-shooting is a social thing,” said Mary. “Fellow shooters are great encouragers. There is a lot of wait time between when you first shoot and your next turn, so you get to know people.”

“Shooting is like golf,” said Tom. “If you have a good day at golf or shooting, then you love it. If you have a bad day ...” Mary jumped in, “... you want to take up needlepoint. It can be as fun and as competitive as you want it to be. For me, league shooting is way more of a fun deal. I feel that I have to have an excuse for missing at a registered shoot since they are more serious.”

Shooters earn patches and pins for hitting 25 birds without a miss. Tom exclaimed, “Breaking your first 25 straight is something your remember!” Patches are also given for other personal goals of 50, 75, 100 and even 200. “Hitting 100 without a miss is a really big deal for the average schmo! I had 99 and for my 100th I was one nervous cat; I was shaking so hard. I got it. That was cool! It was a great feeling!”

Like rodeo, the trophies are usually embossed belt buckles. One of Tom’s close friends passed away a few years ago and a shoot was named after him. Tom won and is extremely proud of his “Gordon Russett Memorial 2003 ‘No Doubt’ ” buckle. Mary has won a large, elaborate wristband from one shoot that she competed in. Once in a very great while there is a shoot geared for teams, usually a “town team shoot” with five members against teams from neighboring towns.

The Parquets hope to still be shooting 20 years from now, but are ready this year for the next registered trap shoot which will be in Edgemont on April 24th.

The Kadoka League meets every Wednesday evening at 6:30 just west of the rodeo grounds. Membership over the years has varied from 10 to 25 shooters. For more information, contact Parquet, Cvach or Bob Johnson.