- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Bud and Charlene Bartholow of Rapid City often travel with their adult sons, Foster and Matt, when the two master trapshooters compete at events across the country, including the annual world trapshooting championship in Illinois.

It’s probably a good thing they travel as a family, because the Bartholow brothers often bring home so many trophies, they need other people to help carry them all.

That was true this August, when the duo brought back 25 trophies combined from the 116th annual Grand American World Trapshooting Championship. It is known by some as the Sturgis motorcycle rally of trapshooting, as more than 2,000 trapshooters traveled to the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s largest competition at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill.

The program consisted of 14 events in the preliminary week of shooting and 10 events during the grand championship week.

The Rapid City Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1MikCb5 ) that Matt Bartholow, 26, a full-time shooter who with his family members hosts free clinics for youth, is an expert at shooting doubles, and has a 2011 World Championship doubles title in the event in which two clay pigeons are released together. Foster, 27, does better with singles, having been named a world co-champion in 2008 after he and his final competitor both hit 900 birds in a row before they agreed to end the competition in a tie.

Shooting up to 1,000 rounds a day at times, Matt said he loves shooting but also takes great enjoyment from meeting people and sharing his love for the sport at events and clinics.

“You won’t find nicer people,” he said. “They’re very humble.”

Foster has a huge passion for the outdoors and hunting in addition to trapshooting. The two shooters say the friendly sibling rivalry pushes them to improve.

“Anytime I can tie him is a good day, and any time I can beat him is a great day,” said Foster, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Rapid City. “It doesn’t happen often, but I enjoy that 2 percent of the time it does.”

But sometimes they team up. The two won the Brother and Brother trophy during a special race during the Winchester AA class singles championship by getting the best combined score against the other sibling pairs.

Matt’s showing at this year’s world championship impressed his sponsor, Browning firearms, so much that the company splashed his victory on its shooting Web page.

“No Browning Pro Staff shooter has ever accumulated anything close to this many winnings at any Grand American in history. Few others in history have,” the company said. “Foster and Matt, the Bartholow brothers, are fast becoming two of the youngest trap shooting celebrities in America. Both have significant accomplishments under their belts. And both know how to get the job done under extreme pressure.”

Their commitment to being the best, and to expanding their chosen sport, was instilled in them by their mother and especially their father, Bud, a slot machine sales representative who once played professional baseball at the AA level in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

Bud Bartholow recalled how his boys welcomed him home one night a decade ago and had information on trapshooting waiting for him on the kitchen table. The next morning, he remembers challenging the boys to create a multi-step plan for how they could fully engage themselves in the sport, both at first and well into the future.

And yet, their dad was unimpressed one day while watching the boys practice at the local shooting range. They were shooting a lot, Bud recalls, but they weren’t focused on improvement, and weren’t focusing mentally on achieving excellence.

So he sat them down and came up with a system based on what he learned in major-league ball: a focus known as “perfect practice.”

“I’ve applied a lot of my mental training from my sports background into mental training for their shooting,” Bud Bartholow said. “You focus on shooting one at a time, don’t be thinking about the last target or the next target. Your ability to be successful is raised to an entirely different level.”

The hard work and concentration has paid major dividends, not just in shooting titles and awards, but in his sons’ commitment to help others learn to shoot and to grow the sport. Over the years, the entire family has grown increasingly involved in trapshooting.

At each shooting event the boys do no-cost youth training, known as “Your Recipe” clinics, at which they taught safety, respect for firearms and personal values to about 1,200 children last year, a number that may grow to 2,000 this year, Bud said. The largest clinic held by the brothers this year came at Grandpa’s Gun Club in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. More than 150 children, parents and coaches participated in the clinics over three days.

The family has also launched Bartholow Shooting Products and Awards, which sells top-line shooting eyewear as well as awards and belt buckles and key chains all focused on shooting. Charlene Bartholow is also distributing L&M; Lenses and Custom Molded Earplugs.

Bud Bartholow says his role in the family trapshooting dynasty is one of “the coach, the driver, the grocery-getter, the laundry guy and the finance guy.”

He adds, “We’ve gotten close as a family, and we certainly promote that with all our involvement in youth programs.”

Their multi-faceted involvement in trapshooting has allowed the family to share its love of the sport, become mentors to youth, and continue their long-held commitment to helping the sport prosper.

“It really comes down to for us, we want to be assets to the sport and continue to grow it and be a positive image both in the sport and the industry,” Foster Bartholow said. “Kids are the future of every sport, and I think it’s part of our responsibility to be a part of that growth.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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