On the Bright Side: East Springfield trapshooter sets sights on more trophies

ContributedMichael Fox Jr. of East Springfield poses with his plaque after being inducted into the New York State Amateur Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame near Syracuse in July.

If his recent accomplishments are any indication, local trapshooter Michael Fox Jr.’s aim is right on target.

The 33-year-old Otsego County resident is making a name for himself in the trapshooting community. He recently earned four state titles at the 2016 New York State Shoot and was inducted last month into the state Amateur Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame near Syracuse, according to the ATA.

Competing against dozens of other marksmen, Fox Jr. came out on top as the state singles champion and the doubles champion, he said Tuesday, and he took the top honors for the High-All-Around and the High-Over-All with scores of 388 and 974. Fox Jr. and other trophy winners will be featured in Trap and Field Magazine.

The East Springfield resident — who is the funeral director at Ottman Funeral Home in Cherry Valley — also recently attended the Grand American World Trapshooting Championships in Illinois, where he won several additional trophies. This event draws nearly 4,000 competitors, according to its website.

Trapshooting is a specific form of clay target shooting, according to the ATA’s website. It requires accuracy and skill to repeatedly aim, fire and break the 4½-inch discs that are hurled through the air at a speed of 42 miles per hour, simulating the flight path of a bird fleeing a hunter.

Fox Jr. has been involved in the sport since he was a teenager, according to his father, Michael Fox Sr.

“Mike has won close to 400 trophies since he’s been shooting,” Fox Sr. said. “With all the bad publicity that firearms receive, it’s kind of nice to see how a young person was taught how to handle things safely and how to respect guns. ...He is an above average role model and a very top-notch representative of the ATA and the trapshooting sport family.”

Founded in 1900, the ATA serves as “the faithful protector of the sport of trapshooting,” according to its website. As the largest clay target shooting organization in the world, the ATA governs the sport’s rules and regulations and seeks to enhance the sport and increase participation.

Annually, ATA members participate in 6,000 plus registered tournaments and shoot at more then 60 million targets, the website reads. There are more than 900 gun clubs affiliated with the ATA.

Fox Jr. said his favorite part of shooting competitively is “all the people you meet along the way.”

“We see the same people everywhere we travel for competitions,” he said. “It’s one large family.”

Fox Jr. cut his teeth with the Jefferson Trap and Skeet Club, which meets twice a week, according to its owner, Edward Terk.

“I’ve known him since he was just a kid,” Terk said Monday. “He just took to it naturally. He’s the most talented person that I’ve ever had shoot here.”

From the beginning, Fox Jr. had “a natural ability,” according to Terk.

“Only a handful of guys ever obtain what he has obtained,” Terk said.

Fox. Jr. said his sights are now set on further improving — he’ll compete at the Northeastern Grand American shoot in September — and on getting his children involved in the sport.

“I have a daughter and a son,” he said. “And they both have BB guns.”