Many teens today spend a lot of free time on their phones, playing video games or hanging out with friends. But Chalice Fawson and her cousin Bridger Fawson, would rather be trapshooting.
All that practice has paid off, too, with Bridger, 17, of Stansbury Park, earning a first place, and Chalice, 16, of Stockton, earning a fourth place at a statewide competition.
Bridger won four medals at the competition in Malad, Idaho. He also received a belt buckle for winning highest overall.
Recently, the cousins competed in the Utah Scholastic Clay Target Program 2018 Youth Winter League. Bridger placed first in his division, getting 296 pigeons out of 300. He broke 168 targets in a row in the varsity division (ages 17 to 18).
Chalice Fawson competed in the ladies junior varsity for 14 to 16 year olds, and placed fourth, breaking 223 of 300 pigeons.
From those winning results, it is apparent Bridger and Chalice Fawson spend a lot of their free time aiming their rifles at four-inch diameter clay pigeon targets, blasting the terra cotta discs out of the sky.
The family’s connection to the sport began when Chalice was 12 and Bridger was 14. Blaine Fawson, 67, of Tooele, took them target shooting. The three are dedicated members of the Tooele Gun Club. Their grandfather explained he takes them when they have a free moment to practice.
“I had to drag him up there at times,” Blaine Fawson said of his first few shooting sessions with his grandson, Bridger.
When it comes to girls shooting targets, Chalice Fawson’s take is that it’s a rarity.
“It’s rather surprising for some people,” Chalice said about people who learn of her hobby. “I’m a girl and you don’t expect me with a big gun shooting.”
Blaine Fawson said about the sport, “It’s ageless, genderless and they’re not forced to practice.”
What’s more, Bridger and Chalice don’t need to be reminded to practice, their grandfather said.
Bridger’s parents are Cameron and Roxanne Fawson. Chalice’s parents are Clint and Sabrina Fawson.
Recently, the two teens began a regular weekly trek, beginning the end of April. Bridger and his grandfather drove to Malad each week for the competition. The two needed to make the trip the last three Sundays for the Round Robin. Bridger won high junior, his age group division, and received the first-place trophy.
Blaine Fawson won high veteran, meaning his age and the experience level for his group, and he also received a trophy. Competing with the Scholastic Clay Target Program allows Chalice, Bridger and their grandfather, as well as others, to travel around and compete.
Some of these competitions are big. They recently participated in one that had approximately 120 participants from Utah and Nevada.
Blaine Fawson said he even watched what looked to be a 7-year-old boy from Moab compete in Utah SCTP 2018 Youth Winter League.
To get to this level, Bridger said, “You have to practice a lot to get consistent.”
Practicing means getting the right stance, learning to hold the shotgun against the shoulder, getting used to the weight, being accurate and more.
Chalice and Bridger also practice shooting the pigeons from the correct distance. Once the pigeon leaves the trap, they have to wait until it is over 50 feet before taking a shot.
Fawson says a pigeon typically travels 42 miles an hour.
“If you don’t stand correctly, you fall over,” Chalice said.
Trap shooting isn’t like the movies, Blaine Fawson said. He said little BBs don’t spray out everywhere.
“It’s a cone shape and relatively small,” he said.
As for the organization in which the Fawsons compete, the SCTP is a national, non-profit organization that aims to educate youth about wildlife conservation and firearm safety. The organization’s goals include helping youth develop skills such as responsibility, self-reliance, discipline and more.
The group holds competitions in both the winter and summer. In addition, the Round Robin is a yearly summer competition. Depending on the SCTP group in the city or state, a Round Robin can be held during different times of the year. SCTP is mainly for youth to encourage their participation. The competitions extend over four weeks, to allow all ages to compete and ensure that there are not too many people gathered at one time.
The various levels or divisions are each assigned a day of the week to compete. The Round Robin for Tooele usually ends the third Sunday before Easter, Blaine Fawson said.
There is a level of etiquette also required for those who participate in trap shooting competitions, target shooting or hunting. This is necessary since crowds of people are likely to be around. In competition, the etiquette includes no jeering or harassing as participants take their places and wait to shoot.
Blaine Fawson said that opponents can “give each other a hard rap after” the competition, but during the competition, they should respect each other.
Trap shooting is a healthy family activity, he said. He is proud, not only of the progress his grandchildren have made with their hobby, but he is also proud that they get out and compete.
Though Blaine Fawson said target shooting for them is a recreational sport, it also helps teach his two grandchildren other important skills — like how to respect others.
And when it comes to competition, the two teens are serious. Chalice’s preferred gun for competitions is a Stoeger Auto Shotgun. Bridger uses a Browning Citori over-under double barreled shotgun, which means he can fire two shotgun shells consecutively.
“I do good with it,” Bridger said.
Besides entering competitions, Bridger also enjoys deer hunting. Though he didn’t get anything his first time out last year, he said he did change his thinking from using a shotgun to using a rifle. Using a scope was one of the differences for him.
“Everything looks like a deer out there,” he said. Chalice and his grandfather chuckled.
The Fawsons’ love for shooting currently coincides with a big upheaval within the country about the role that guns do and should play. Gun issues have been both politicized and hotly debated as the issues of school and workplace shootings have been pushed to the political forefront by the media.
Bridger believes that the U.S. citizens’ rights to bear arms, according to the Second Amendment, are pretty cut and dried.
“People should be allowed to have a gun,” he said.
In fact, Bridger said, guns help save people in many situations.
Along with the privilege of owning a gun, Chalice said is the person’s responsibility to, “know how to operate [it].”
She said the government needs to tighten the gun regulations so those who own illegal guns are dealt with. She believes in the right for citizens to bear arms, but she also thinks we should make it harder for those who would obtain them illegally.
Despite the national gun conflict, the two Fawson teens are on the same page regarding gun rights and aside from their prowess with a gun, their futures both look bright. Both have high educational and occupational goals.
Currently, Bridger’s plan is to attend Utah Valley University, where he hopes to study aviation.
Though Chalice has a few more years before she starts college, she said she enjoys planning events and would like to become a professional event planner. But, she says her educational focus could change.
Both teens, however, say as they continue throughout their lives, they will continue to trap shoot. Bridger and Chalice trap shoot because they find it enjoyable.
“Right now,” Blaine Fawson said, target shooting is “recreational for them.”
They aren’t as concerned about winning prizes as they are about developing a skill.
The teens say their competitors are polite and everyone focuses their energy on performing at their best and encouraging others along. If one competitor does a good job, everyone tends to congratulate them.
“I like how it’s different,” Chalice said of her hobby. “You don’t see many teens trapshooting,”
For more information about joining the local target-shooting group, visit www.tooelegunclub.com. The organization not only offers membership in a league, but it also lists competition schedules. In addition, the club maintains a Facebook page.