Oak Harbor youth dominates in trap shoots

Kris Miller’s shooting jacket already boasts an array of badges awarded for his trap shooting abilities. At the age of 13, he’s already won a number of trophies, awards and, most recently, a turkey. - Jim Larsen
Kris Miller’s shooting jacket already boasts an array of badges awarded for his trap shooting abilities. At the age of 13, he’s already won a number of trophies, awards and, most recently, a turkey.
— image credit: Jim Larsen

A good eye and sharp-shooting grandparents is all it took for Oak Harbor teen-ager Kris Miller to become a top flight marksman at a young age.

Only 13, Miller was among the top finishers in nine different categories at a recent state-wide trap shooting contest at the Evergreen Gun Club south of Olympia.

Competing in the sub-junior category for youths under 14, Miller dominated his division and finished among the best overall. The event, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest International Trap Shooting Association, attracted about 450 of the state’s top gunners, but they didn’t intimidate the young Miller.

The day’s high score was 100, but Miller was close behind at 96, for example.

“He came home with 9 trophies,” exuded his proud grandfather, Bob Lang, a retired telephone company employee in Oak Harbor. “it’s not just winning — it’s the scores he shot in winning.”

Bob Lang and his wife Nancy spend their retirement years going to trap shooting contests through Washington in the summer and Arizona in the winter. Kris Miller is the son of Sam and Kristy Miller, neither of whom have the time for trap shooting. So the Langs are glad their grandson has followed their avocation.

“He started shooting at nine, as soon as he could hold a gun up,” Bob Lang said.

Kris Miller has an advantage in what is a fairly costly sport because his grandfather loads the shells for all three shooters. With a store-bought box of shells costing around $5, it adds up when you’re blasting clay pigeons out of the sky.

Miller uses a Browning 12-gauge when he’s shooting single targets. In doubles, when two pigeons are launched simultaneously, he switches to a Browning over & under.

Miller is too busy with baseballs, football and wrestling to devote all his time to shooting, but he tries to get out every Sunday with his grandparents. Last Sunday at the Navy’s Clover Valley Trap Club he won a turkey.

There aren’t any other kids Miller’s age involved in competitive trap shooting in Oak Harbor. “He’s unique,” said grandfather Lang. “He’s a natural.” The family usually participates in registered trap shoots, with the nearest such range in Mount Vernon.

Miller has a competitive nature and finds plenty of what he likes while trap shooting. “I like the competition,” he said.

His grandmother is plenty competitive herself, and cites the same reason for her involvement in the sport. “With a handicap you can compete against anyone, not just women,” Nancy Lang said.

Bob Lang has high hopes his grandson will move up in the trap shooting world. “He doesn’t choke up,” he said. “He keeps his cool real well.”

Top competitive shooters aim for a military trap shooting school in Colorado where they receive instruction to fix any bad habits and compete against the best in the country.

Kris Miller said he would like to attend that school when he gets older. Doing well there could put him on a path to the Olympics. But in the meantime he’s happy just shooting with his grandparents on Sundays and in the summer. If nothing else, it’s a good way to get that Thanksgiving turkey.

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