Nora Ross coming to town to shoot trap is the equivalent of Serena Williams showing up to play tennis, Lindsey Vonn to race downhill or Jackie Joyner-Kersee to spring the 100-meter hurdles.
Ross will appear at the Game Fair when the annual festival opens Friday for a two-weekend, six-day run in Ramsey. Her intent during her 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. seminars at the outdoor extravaganza is to teach trapshooting to shotgunners eager to learn from a master.
(Note: Any school trapshooter who attends Ross’ seminar and fills out a participation form will have his or her admission price refunded by Game Fair promotors Chuck and Loral I Delaney to their school team to help defray team expenses.)
Born in Kentucky, Ross, 56, has been on the Women’s All-American Trapshooting Team 34 times, serving as captain 15 times. She holds the highest singles average record for a woman (94.62), the highest handicap average for a woman (94.47), the highest doubles average for a woman (97.72) and the highest all-round average for a woman (97.02).
Ross also has won the most clay target titles for a woman at the Grand American. She was the first woman in history to break 100 straight in doubles and the first woman to win a major championship at the Grand American when she beat Ray Stafford 120/120 to 119/120 in a shoot-off.
Her longest run in singles was 991 straight in 1993. And more than 100 times in singles, she’s broken 200 straight. She was inducted into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame in 1999.
In the interview below, Ross talked about trapshooting and how she teaches shooters to break more targets.
Q: Is a specially made trap gun necessary to be a competitive shooter?
A: It’s nice, but not necessary — especially not for beginners.
Q: If a trap gun is purchased, what’s important to consider?
A: My preference is an over and under with screw-in chokes, which can be used for trap, sporting clays or hunting.
Q: How important to beginners is trapshooting instruction?
A: The advantage of a good instructor is that the shooter can listen to one person for advice, rather than 20.
Q: You keep one eye open when shooting. Others use both eyes.
A: Some people say there’s a big difference between one-eyed and two-eyed shooters. But once we call “Pull,” it’s the same for everyone. The difference is the set-up. The one-eyed shooter holds on the roof of the house. The two-eyed shooter can hold higher.
Q: Are good trapshooters necessarily good wing shots?
A: Not necessarily. I know a lot of trapshooters who have difficulty shooting live birds. There’s a difference between target shooting and bird hunting.
Q: What is your favorite type of hunting?
A: Doves — in part because it’s not cold during dove hunting! I like hunting ducks and geese also, and my husband and I do a lot of [ruffed] grouse hunting. We live in Ohio, but we go to Wisconsin for grouse three or four times a year.
Q: Minnesota is home to some 10,000 high school trapshooters, and the sport is catching on quickly in other states. Does the sport’s popularity surprise you?
A: It does. Forty years ago when I started, there was nothing for schoolkids. The great thing about trapshooting is that anyone can do it, so long as you can lift a gun. You don’t have to be physically fit, as in some sports. Trapshooting is good especially if it gets kids outdoors and away from their electronics.
Q: What are the benefits of shooting besides learning how to break a target?
A: Shooting can teach you how to win and how to lose. Shooting also gives you self-confidence — that if you can accomplish this, you can also accomplish other things in your life. You also learn to handle pressure and stress, which helps in all facets of your life.
Q: As a competitive trapshooter, did you set goals?
A: Absolutely. When I started, there had never been a woman who had broken 100 straight in doubles. My dad knew that, and he thought he was safe when he told me he would buy me a car if I ever did it. I was 20 years old when I walked in the door of our home and told my dad I did it. That was on a Sunday, and on Wednesday we were looking for a car. My dad thought his bet was safe. It wasn’t.
Q: What do most people do wrong while shooting?
A: They don’t hold the gun tightly. When they start moving to the target, everything gets loose and the gun just takes off.
Q: How important is gun fit?
A: It can be a problem, especially for beginners. Often they end up fitting themselves to the gun, rather than fitting the gun to them.
Q: Do you like teaching trapshooting?
A: I do. I’ve done a lot of trapshooting and I want to give back. Some people get frustrated and want to quit. But knowing shooting basics is important. Getting straightened out and doing things right makes everything not only better but easier.