- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

ADA, Okla. (AP) - Nineteen years after Lowell Leach began pursuing trapshooting as a hobby, his dedication to the sport has paid off.

The manager of the Ada Skeet and Trap Club was inducted into the Oklahoma Trapshooters Hall of Fame during the state trapshooting tournament, which took place May 27 through June 1 in El Reno. He joined his father, Eugene, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.

The induction was not the only tournament highlight for Leach, who posted the best event scores of his career that weekend.

Leach’s streak began May 30, when he won the tournament’s handicap event with 97 hits out of 100. The next day, he captured the Class C Championship in the 200-bird, 16-yard contest with a score of 195 out of 200.

Then on June 1, he finished fifth in the 100-bird handicap contest - which pitted him against 210 individual shooters - with a score of 96 out of 100.

Leach, 78, told The Ada News (http://bit.ly/1ldda3q) he was pleased to be part of the Hall of Fame’s second father-son combination and elated about posting his best-ever scores.

“This is what I’m really most proud of,” he said.

Leach was introduced to shooting sports came when he was 13. His father bought him a Browning 20-gauge Auto-5 semi-automatic shotgun so the two could hunt quail together.

Leach soon realized that he would have to learn to shoot fast if he wanted to keep up with his father. By the time Leach was 15, he could usually reach his 10-bird limit without many problems.

When Leach turned 16, he could kill five birds in a row when they emerged in a string and circled him.

Leach later turned to target shooting, beginning with his first experience as a skeet shooter in 1966 in Skiatook. During his second competition, he scored a 47 in a 50-bird shoot and captured the A-class title.

The next week, Leach bought a new Remington 12-gauge shotgun and started shooting skeet as a hobby.

Leach became an expert skeet shooter, earning several awards over the next 48 years. In 2004, he received the J.A. Durham Award at the Oklahoma state skeet shooting tournament for supporting and promoting the sport.

Leach dabbled in trapshooting in 1967, posting a score of 87 in a singles competition in Chickasha. He was more interested in skeet shooting at the time, so he did not return to serious trap shooting for nearly 30 years.

He continued skeet shooting until 1996, when he suffered a stroke due to a blocked artery in his neck. After undergoing surgery, he experienced motor-control problems in his fingers, so he decided to give up skeet shooting.

Leach later switched to trapshooting, using a gun that doesn’t fire until he pulls and releases the trigger.

“I went to trapshooting because of that problem, and I don’t shoot skeet anymore because of the safety of that,” he said.

Besides learning how to shoot, Leach picked up the basics of running a gun club from his father.

Eugene managed the Pauls Valley Gun Club in the 1970s and ‘80s, and Leach handled behind-the-scenes tasks at contests - writing programs, registering shooters, posting scores, determining winners and presenting awards - for more than 10 years.

Leach’s interest in recreational shooting continued after he moved to Ada in 1967 and joined the Ada Skeet and Trap Club. Over the past 47 years, he has held every club office, served as the club manager and organized local trapshooting contests.

Leach said he learned that he would join his father in the Hall of Fame about a month ago, when one of the Oklahoma State Trapshooters Association’s directors called him to share the news. He said he owed the honor to his series of wins and his efforts to promote the sport.

“I haven’t been in the double A or triple A or A class in trap, but I’ve been a consistent winner in my age,” he said. “One of the real reasons they put me in is, I promote the game for the whole state. They like that.”

___

Information from: The Ada News, http://www.adaeveningnews.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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