Holley trap shooting team wins conference for first time

Photos by Tom Rivers: Caleb Donley, a ninth-grader, fires at a clay target during a practice on Thursday evening for the Holley trap team. The team took first out of eight schools in 1A - Conference 10 for the first title since the school started the trap team in 2016.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 May 2023 at 9:19 am

HOLLEY – The school’s trap team has won its conference for the first time since Holley joined the NYS High School Clay Target League in 2016.

This is the eighth season Holley has been in the league. Holley earned second places in prior seasons, but took first this time based on the cumulative scores of its shooters over five weeks of competition.

The team has 18 students, from grades seven to seniors. Holley finished first out of 8 teams in 1A – Conference 10. The scores are counted for 12 of the shooters on the teams.

Holley trap shooting team members are pictured on Thursday evening at their final practice of the season. Pictured, from left, in front are Hunter Pachla, Leigha Walker, Kohle Pachla and Mason Merle. Back row: Tessa Hazzard, TJ Calvaruso, Caleb Donley, Ryan Blodgett, Ashton Buzard, Jaxson Schicker, Teanna Church and Layne Walker. Others on the team not in photo include Max Hollister, Mason Moyer, Evan Press, Joshua Silpoch, Noah St. John and Ronald Thorn.

Holley’s score of 3,984.50 topped Unatego High School in second with 3,573, Genesee Valley in third at 3,331.50, Trumansburg in fourth at 2,874, Sandy Creek in fifth at 2,776, Paul V. Moore in sixth at 2,680, Voorheesville in seventh at 2,310, and Romulus in eighth at 1,751.

Two other schools in Orleans County compete in the trap shooting league. Albion was fifth out of 8 teams in 1A – Conference 1 with East Aurora in first. Kendall was fifth out of 8 teams in 1A – Conference 8 with Berlin High School in first in that conference.

The schools are grouped based on the size of their teams. They compete at their home bases virtually against the other teams. They aren’t competing at the same spot next to each other in person.

Holley’s team competes at the Holley Rod and Gun Club. A trap house fires clay discs at up to 42 miles an hour from five different angles. The shooters move to five different stations and take 50 shots per round. They have to hit targets at different heights, angles and speeds.

Many of Holley’s shooters hit 40 or more of the 50 targets – an 80 percent or better rate.

“It’s practice, practice, practice – and concentration,” sad head coach John Waldron. Other coaches include Butch Moy, Doug Baker and Mike Elsner.

John Waldron, head coach of the team, gives a safety briefing before the team started practice on Thursday. They also had pizza to celebrate their first conference championship for Holley in trap shooting.

The coaches thanked the community for donating money for the team to buy ammunition. There are collections for people to donate at Sam’s Diner and Dustin’s Pizzeria.

Caleb Donley, a freshman, has been on the team for two seasons. He said he didn’t hit many of the targets the first year but now is breaking about half of them.

“It’s great competition,” he said on Thursday at the Rod & Gun Club. “I’ve gotten way better since the first time I did it.”

Caleb said it take s good hand-eye coordination to be a good shooter.

“It prepares you for hunting season,” he said.

Teanna Church, 16, said her skills have improved in trap shooting. She looks forward to joining her father when they go out hunting. Teanna also plays on Holley’s softball team.

Teanna Church, a junior, enjoys going hunting with her father. She said her skills have improved from being on the trap shooting team. She has hit 33 of the 50 targets. She said it was a challenge at first to be a good shooter.

“I’ve grown from when I started,” she said. “I have more confidence. I’m not someone who quits on something.”

She praised her teammates for being disciplined and focused to prepare for the competitions.

“I think we’ve done a very good job,” she said about the trap shooters. “We’ve all grown and have been working very hard.”

TJ Calvaruso, right, and Holley grad Ethan Waldron were partners in a shooting game on Thursday. Waldon, 20, was on the team its first six years. Calvaruso, 15, is one of Holley’s top shooters. He usually hits at least 45 of the 50 clay discs.

TJ Calvaruso has patches showing streaks where he has hit 25, 50 and 75 taregts in a row. His record is 99 consecutive.

Teanna Church, left, and Layna Walker take aim at the orange clay target (high above Layman’s head) at the Holley Rod & Gun Club.