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Ready, aim, fire

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Staff Writer | February 19, 2024 1:08 AM

HAYDEN — Maddy John hefted a shotgun on a cold, clear Friday morning, tucked the stock against her shoulder and took aim at a clay bird wheeling across the cobalt sky.

She pulled the trigger and the target broke into pieces.

John was among a few dozen shooters who gathered at the Coeur d’Alene Skeet and Trap Club, a range near the Coeur d’Alene Airport in Hayden. The winter league clay sports competition is in full swing and will run through the third week in March, culminating in a banquet for the presentation of team and individual awards.

“It’s such a cool, traditional sport,” John said. “It keeps you grounded.”

John has been shooting since she was a child. Her paternal grandparents were both champion shooters and her dad, Morgan John, passed the love of the sport on to her.

“Doing things with my family is a big priority for me,” Morgan said. “This club really does foster a family environment.”

The father and daughter both volunteer regularly at the club, which was incorporated in 1946 at Hayden Lake and moved to its location on Miles Avenue in 1965. Maddy John is the club’s unofficial photographer and even lends her baking skills to club events.

“I love being able to help,” she said.

Tom Bosenko, the club’s information officer, said there are more than 400 members this year, though it’s not necessary to be a member to come and shoot. It’s not even necessary to own a gun.

“We have rental guns available,” Bosenko said.

Those who frequent the Coeur d’Alene Skeet and Trap Club are a blend of locals and visitors. Some travel from across the region to shoot at the club, including one regular who makes the drive from Moscow twice a week, a nearly 200-mile round trip.

They come from near and far because the club offers what no one else can.

“We’re probably the only club in the region with all three sports,” said Bosenko, referring to skeet, trap and five-stand shooting.

Shooters range in age from kids who hit the range with their parents to people well into their 80s.

Hayden resident Rich Pera is a club regular who’s been shooting since 1960. In his youth, he estimates he shot as many as 50,000 rounds a year.

“Age is creeping up on me,” he said. “It slows me down a bit. But I don’t worry about the score. I just worry about camaraderie with my friends.”

To compete in the winter league, Pera organized a team of eight “super seniors” who enjoy shooting and socializing at the club. Like Pera, they’re all 73 or older.

“I’ll keep doing it until I can’t,” he said with a laugh.

Pera used to shoot pistols and rifles, but that wasn’t enough of a challenge. It’s more exciting to shoot a target flying through the air at 40 or 50 mph and see it shatter on a hit.

“When your aim is right on, it turns to powder,” Bosenko said.