Tom Knapp, legendary Minnesota exhibition shooter, dies

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 30, 2013 - 8:25 PM

Tom Knapp, one of the world’s greatest exhibition shooters who for years amazed audiences at Game Fair in Anoka County, has died.

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Tom Knapp of Elk River — The Shooting Star — was considered the top exhibition shooter in the world. He died last week at age 62.

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Tom Knapp, one of the world’s greatest exhibition shooters who for years amazed audiences at Game Fair in Anoka County, has died.

Knapp, 62, of Elk River, died Friday of pulmonary fibrosis at St. Marys Hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Among his trick-shooting exploits: He threw and individually shot 10 clay targets with his shotgun. He appeared on numerous TV shows and hosted “Benelli’s American Birdhunter’’ TV show for eight years.

“He was terrific shot, a great promoter and a nice human being,’’ said Chuck Delaney, Game Fair owner, who knew Knapp for decades.

Knapp traveled the United States and world giving trick-shooting exhibitions for Winchester Olin, Benelli USA, Federal Cartridge and CZ-USA until his health issues forced him to retire in February. He had worked for what was then Hennepin County Parks for 25 years before becoming a sponsored exhibition shooter.

“He touched so many people,’’ said his wife, Colleen. “I have been fielding texts, e-mails and phone calls from all over the United States, and from good friends overseas.’’

He enjoyed his life as an exhibition shooter, his wife said. “He totally loved it,’’ she said. His health issues first surfaced about three years ago, she said.

Knapp grew up in Maple Plaine and Milaca. He and his wife celebrated their 14th anniversary in April. Besides his wife, he is survived by a brother, John, of Montana, two stepchildren and four grandchildren. “His pride and joy were his four grandchildren,’’ Colleen Knapp said.

There will be no funeral services, per his wishes, she said. Family and friends will gather 1 p.m. May 11 at the Del Tone/Luth Gun Club in St. Cloud to celebrate his life. The family prefers memorials to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org).

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