No wonder I had forgotten how much fun was involved with competing at the annual sporting clay shoot put on by the Barrelville Outdoor Club. I shot in the first three events (actually being on the winning team in the inaugural blast), but when I found myself toting a scattergun on Aug. 23 around the mountaintop course it was for the 10th yearly event. A half dozen shoots had come and gone since I punched holes in the sky near the Pennsylvania line.

This shoot is a success story. All of the profits are used to finance the club’s There is a Santa program that makes sure that children who would otherwise have a Christmas without gifts don’t ever face that situation. The same club members who were wearing T-shirts and sweating at the shoot two Saturdays ago will slip inside Santa Claus suits this coming Christmas season and distribute the goodies.

“This is the best turnout we have had,” said Jake Wilhelm, who has been among those organizing the tournament since the beginning.

There were 29 teams shooting this year. Each team has five members. Each shooter fires 75 rounds.

Take your socks and your gloves off so you can use all your fingers and toes and you will see this math adds up to 10,875 clay birds being fired upon.

Wilhelm said that there may be money available this Christmas to add a food basket along with the kids’ gifts, making sure each family has a fine holiday dinner.

I was shooting again because of the generosity of Jeff Kerr of Kerr Bros. Guns on Virginia Avenue. Thanks, Jeff, for putting me on the team. Sorry I only whacked 31 of the 75 birds.

Phil Woods, who works at the gun shop, was our team’s top shooter with 46. In between were Bob Slider and his sons, Jason and Bobby.

The winner for the second year in a row was the Hillbilly Claybusters. Second and third went to two teams sponsored by the Piney Mountain Sportsmen’s Club.

The top shooter was Steve Edmonson from the winning Hillbilly Claybusters. He smacked a mere 70 of 75 clay birds. The top female shooter was Kim Isonook with 49 birds.

I thought a really nice touch to the course was that each shooting station bore a Santa Claus hat with the station’s number on it. Many thanks to the club member who toured the shoot on a four-wheeler handing out cold bottles of water.

Post event we scooted to the pavilion for a picnic lunch that was woofed down after the four-hour shoot.

On one of the walls in our rec room is a framed photo in which I am included. I treasure this photo, being a lifelong Pittsburgh Pirates fan. The picture is from the first Barrelville shoot.

During those days, Bob Robertson was instrumental in bringing former Pirates to the event. In the photo, in addition to the Mount Savage strongboy, as our former sports editor J. Suter Kegg, called Robertson, are a number of Pirates.

There is Elroy Face, whose 1958 relief pitching winning streak I listened to on the radio as a young man in Altoona. There is Nellie Briles, who is no longer with us.

My partners at a couple of the shoots were Manny Sanguillen and Kent Tekulve. Both were terrible shots, but immensely enjoyable to be alongside. Teke, as Tekulve is called, at one point said, “I’d hit more clay birds by throwing rocks at them.”

“Yes you would,” I said, and I meant it as a total compliment, having been thrilled on numerous occasions by Teke’s masterful, nearly-underhand, pinpoint domination in relief.

At one of the shoots, I told Ed Ott, a catcher with the typical fire-hydrant build and strength, that on a summer Saturday in 1979 I watched TV as he slid into second base.

“Felix Mantilla tagged you real hard in the face with the ball,” I said. “You picked him up, turned his feet up in the air and slammed him head first into the infield dirt.”

“No I didn’t,” Ott said.

“But I saw it on TV,” I replied.

“It was Felix Milan,” Ott said, correcting me.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at

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