FORT WAYNE – His bio on the Indiana Trapshooting website tells you the first gun Garl Gresley ever fired was his dad’s Model 12 shotgun back when he was 12 or 13 years old.
Gresley’s version is not as chronologically precise but nonetheless telling in its own way.
I’ve been shooting as long as I could carry a gun, he says.
And look where it’s taking him now.
This week the 61-year-old Hoagland resident will be inducted into the Indiana Trapshooter Hall of Fame, an honor that’s been 36 years in the making. He started shooting registered traps in 1978 (My older brother started me out, he says), and plenty of hardware has followed.
Across the years he’s won 26 trophies in the Indiana State Shoot, including the 2012 singles championship. He’s also collected trophies at the Ohio State Shoot, the Southern Grand and the Grand American.
In 2010, he was the Southern Grand singles champion. And in 2013, he made the Sub-Veteran ATA All-American second team and was a first-team men’s Indiana All-State shooter. His lifetime target numbers are 89,850 (singles), 104,450 (handicap) and 76,740 (doubles).
All this in a sport that doesn’t leave much room for error if a competitor wants to make any sort of dent at all.
The hardest thing (starting out) was realizing you have to break all (the clays), Gresley says. If you go to a big trapshoot or something, if you don’t break ’em all, then you’re not in the shoot-off or anything. You have to be consistent. That was the toughest part.
Gresley figures it took him probably about three years to develop that consistency. Although that’s not always the learning curve.
Some people fall into it, they’re just natural at it, he says. They start breaking good scores right away. Some people it takes a little longer.
For his part, Gresley learned by both doing and observing. His mentors included Gene Baxter, Bill Cooley and Bob Reynolds, trap program director at St. Joe Valley Conservation Club where Gresley regularly shoots. He also kept a close eye on the All-American shooters who turned up every year at the Grand American and other premier events.
Now he joins some of those same shooters in a Hall of Fame. And he’s not finished yet.
This week, for instance, he was trying to add another state title to his haul in the Indiana Trapshooters Association State Shoot in Fortville.
We don’t have as big a state shoot as some of the neighboring states do, and I think that’s just because the state itself is smaller than some of the rest, Gresley said last week. Ohio has got one of the biggest state shoots in the United States, and you know, the Michigan state shoot was last week. I think we usually have a shoot that’s comparable in attendance to Florida.
Still worth the winning.
I’m just trying to shoot the best I can, Gresley said. There are a lot of good shooters down here. And I’ll just do the best that I can and hope for the best.
Which has always been pretty good.