Watkins - For three days there was little quiet, as loud bangs echoed off concrete walls and wooden fences from 9 a.m. until past dusk. Only at night could competitors in the 65th annual Colorado State Skeet Championship take their ear plugs out and have a conversation.
Skeet shooting takes accuracy and speed, as individuals shoot at clay pigeons, which are fragile orange discs that fit in the palm of your hand. The pigeons are launched at and away from the shooters at varying heights and speeds from two flanking towers.
Participants took aim with shotguns, and last weekend's competitors used 12, 20, 28 and 410 gauges.
Steve Mancinelli of Denver has been shooting for 40 years. Mancinelli won the 410 gauge competition by hitting all 100 targets.
"It comes down to being able to execute fundamentals properly, and keeping my mental focus," Mancinelli said. "Keep a calm demeanor and know that if you're executing all your fundamentals properly that the targets are going to break."
Over 50 members from Colorado Skeet Shooting Association showed up at Golden Gun Club to compete.
"Shooters came from Longmont, Montrose, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins and Denver" said president Christopher Cobb of Colorado Springs. Cobb downed 96 out of 100 pigeons in the 410 gauge, which earned second.
"I had my worst outing in four years," Cobb said. "I'm normally a 98-99 shooter, but I was just little tired was all."
Cobb improved as the day progressed, and his 393 total for clay pigeons made him the overall winner over his friend, Mancinelli, who had 392.
The competitors were friendly and helpful, exchanging high-fives when their opponents were shooting well, and patting them on the back when they missed. The challenge of hitting the clays was to know the general area where they were going to fly, and then being able to knock them down.
Just being a good shot is not enough according to Mancinelli.
"What's tough is dealing with the variables, weather, wind, referees, it's real important for you to be in sync with the referee," he said before adding that a good rhythm leads to good pulls.