CORVALLIS – The routine begins. Keiver Haldorson tells himself to keep his head on the gun while the rolling notes of Enya stream through his ears. His concentration is set. The bird is launched and muscle memory takes over.
“I don’t even mean to pull the trigger, but I do,” Haldorson said.
The 17-year-old from Corvallis is Montana’s current state champion trap shooter. The clay pigeon sport requires competitors to shoot their target from five spots in a semi-circle around the “trap.” The pigeon is launched from the trap and climbs in height, moving away from the shooter until it reaches its apex and drops.
“It could fly to the right. You can get a hard left. You can get straight-aways. It’s just a random thing,” Haldorson said. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Trap has three rounds, singles, doubles and handicapped. Singles involve five shots from each spot. Doubles is 10. Handicapped is like singles, but further away based on previous scores. There are two separate traps competitors shoot from. Haldorson said the trick to hitting the target is practice.
“When you shoot the bird, you want to get that mental picture of what you just did so you can repeat it,” Haldorson said. “After a few years of doing it, you just know where to go.”
Haldorson has shot perfect scores of 200 twice. His first was on his 16th birthday for the state championship. While Haldorson remains humble about it, his coach Dan Waldo, said the feat is very uncommon.
“If he continues to shoot as much as he did, he could conceivably shoot on the Olympic team,” Waldo said.
Haldorson started shooting trap at the age of 12. He said a friend suggested he drop by and try it out.
“So I came out, shot, and just stuck with it,” Haldorson said.
It’s become a family sport. His father, younger brother and younger sister all shoot trap, too.
“And my mom spectates,” Haldorson said.
Waldo coaches Haldorson’s junior trap team at the Hamilton Trap Club. He said Haldorson has a particular regard for instruction.
“He’s easy to coach,” Waldo said. “I mean, he’s a good kid. He listens well. When he started, he was just like the rest of them – needed a lot of training – and he listened and took it to heart.”
Haldorson showed this regard when asked for tips on shooting trap. His first suggestion was, “Just listen to your coaches.”
He also suggested concentration.
“If you’re not concentrating out there, you’re going to miss,” Haldorson said.
According to Waldo, concentration is something Haldorson has plenty of.
“He’s very intense about his shooting,” Waldo said. “He breaks it all down to every bird and what he needs to do to hit every bird.”
Discipline is something every trap shooter learns, Waldo said. And responsibility.
“You know, they’re handling firearms. There’s a definite amount of safety,” he said.
This season, Haldorson has taken home at least four first place prizes and two runner-ups so far. He’ll be in Spokane for a competition Saturday and Sunday and will travel to Boise the following weekend for their state competition. Montana’s state championship will be July 11-15 in Helena.
Reach reporter Lindsey Galipeau at 363-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.