By Olivia Clark
“Squad, ready?” “Scorer, ready?” “Pull!”
These words are all too familiar to 17-year-old Bobby Fowler, who has been trapshooting for six years. In that time, the Christian County High School graduate has won both state and national trapshooting contests.
Fowler started trapshooting with the 4-H Sharp Shooters after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper. Once he started working with the group, a friend of Fowler’s dad, Dean Debow, who is a record trap shooter, sought him out and suggested that Fowler take his clinic, so he did.
From then on, things moved forward with his success in trapshooting. In 2010, Fowler started working with the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) and left 4-H in 2012 to join the association’s youth program called Academics Integrity in Marksmanship. The AIM program, according to its website, allows elementary through college-age shooters the chance to compete in registered competitions on a level playing field either as a team or as an individual. Fowler began competing individually but kept Debow as his coach.
“(Dean) has a real mathematical way of looking at this,” Fowler said. “He’s taught me how to properly
acquire a target and how to be able to hit it under any circumstance. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of mental training.”
Kentucky tournaments typically have 12 events over a six-day period, with entry fees of $25 to $30 per event. The first four days may have three events a day with championship events on the last two days. The events usually include singles (one target to hit for 200 times per event), doubles (two targets to hit for 100 times per event) and handicap (one target to hit for 100 times per event at a specified range that the shooter qualifies for).
In singles and doubles, each shooter stands approximately 16 yards away from the “trap house,” or where the target is released. A trap house is built out of wood or cinder blocks with an open front that faces away from the shooter. The shooter does not know which direction the target will travel until it is launched from the trap house.
In doubles, the trap house launches two targets in opposite directions, and the shooter attempts to take out both targets before they hit the ground.
Fowler competes in most individual contests, and his list of accolades is quite lengthy. To name of a few, Fowler is a three-time ATA All-American, five-time Kentucky State Team, three-time Kentucky State AIM Singles Champion, 2013 AIM National Singles Champion, 2015 U.S. Open Champion, and three-time Kentucky 4-H Singles Champion. He competed with the Christian County FFA team in 2012 where he was the state singles champion that year.
Fowler has earned sponsors from Blaser, a company that produces rifles and shotguns, and Claybuster, a company that produces shotgun wads. He has also been featured twice in Trap and Field Magazine.
His passion for trapshooting also resonates off the field. Last year, he presented twice to legislators in Frankfort about the promotion of trapshooting as an extracurricular activity in schools. The sport is already recognized in Tennessee high schools.
“Trapshooting is a very safe and supervised sport,” Fowler said. “The goal for any trapshooting coach or program is to promote firearm safety and personal responsibility among students. Firearm safety is monitored by range officers at many of the events that I have attended.”
Not only is safety promoted at the competitions but friendships among participants.
“While we compete against each other and want to win, there is no time these students or myself have any bad feelings towards each other,” Fowler said, “nor do we try to undermine each other’s shooting. These are my friends, and I have many around the country. We all know that we are not going to finish first at every event. We take that in stride, congratulate the winner and move on to the next event.”
In April 2014, the Kentucky State Legislature approved House Consent Resolution 11, which encourages the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and school districts to adopt trapshooting as a sport for students.
Fowler’s parents, Mike and Mona Fowler, are passionate about the sport as well. Mona serves as the AIM director of Kentucky and Mike serves on the board of directors of the Kentucky Trapshooters League.
Even with all the titles, sponsorships and press, the couple said their son stays humble.
“Trapshooting has taught Bobby a sense of honor and fair play that cannot be derived in other sports,” Mike said.
The teen said he knows anyone can win at any time.
“I go out and I let my shotgun talk,” Fowler said. “I don’t want to stand and brag — I’m not that kind of person … and that’s how I’ve maintained the whole way through.”
By Olivia Clark