On first glance, West Roxbury’s Emma Tiedmann is a typical high-schooler. At Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham the 16-year-old juggles lacrosse and field hockey practice with homework, singing and acting in school performances. But come Saturday mornings at the Fin Fur and Feather Club, Tiedmann levels her 12-gauge shotgun at a 3-inch target flying downrange at 42 miles per hour and squeezes the trigger. The extent of her extracurricular activities becomes clear.
On first glance, West Roxbury’s Emma Tiedmann is a typical high-schooler. At Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham the 16-year-old juggles lacrosse and field hockey practice with homework, singing and acting in school performances. But come Saturday mornings at the Fin Fur and Feather Club, Tiedmann levels her 12-gauge shotgun at a 3-inch target flying downrange at 42 miles per hour and squeezes the trigger. The extent of her extracurricular activities becomes clear. “I’m a pretty well-rounded person,” said Tiedmann, a competitive trap shooter who placed third in her age division during this year’s Bay State Games. At school, Tiedmann’s friends have had mixed reactions to her unusual hobby. “When I first told my friends at school I was a shooter, some went ‘take me shooting some time,’ while others heard about it and felt pretty iffy.” Tiedmann entered the world of competitive shooting three years ago when her father and Millis gun club member, Michael, decided to re-enter the sport. Under the coaching of her father and nine other gun club members, Emma and some 30 other youth shooters hone their skills early Saturday mornings, standing about 16 yards from a trap house, a structure that launches a 3-inch-wide clay pigeon across the range at varying angles. As the target moves through the air, shooters have only a few seconds to take aim and fire before the target hits the ground. During competitive shoots, five shooters stand in a line and take turns with individual targets, firing a single shot at the orange target at a distance of about 35 yards. “I have daughters,” Michael Tiedmann said. “I’m not going to discriminate, and I wanted a shooting buddy. When I took up shooting again, she hopped right on board.” Emma Tiedmann, a self-described “girly-girl,” said that despite the surprisingly heavy kick of the gun, she was quickly hooked on her new hobby and spent several hours a week on the shooting line and has hunted pheasant and woodcock in Rhode Island with her father.
A quick guide to trap shooting
Thinking about giving the sport a shot? Time to review the basics of singles trap shooting.
You and your four competitors stand 16 yards behind a small wood structure, the trap house. Inside that building is a launcher that will send your 3-inch-wide targets (called pigeons) across the skyline at just more than 40 miles an hour. Each shooter on the line begins their turn by yelling “pull,” indicating they are ready to shoot. Sounds simple enough, right? Well to add to the challenge and better mimic bird hunting, the pigeons can leave the trap house at a variety of angles, forcing the competitor to quickly track the target and fire a single shot. After each member of the five-person group (called a squad) finishes a round of shooting, they shift right one position with the person at the farthest-right position taking up the open spot on the left. In most competitions, each person will fire at 25 pigeons, and whoever racks up the most hits walks away with first place. So now you know the rules and (hopefully) the proper direction to face before yelling, “pull,” but the question remains, how are you going to send that target to clay pigeon heaven? According to Michael Tiedemann, repetition and muscle memory helps prevent jerky movements that can throw you off target; while keeping both eyes open and your cheek pressed against the stock will help you swat pesky pigeons out of the sky. Finally, by moving your entire upper body and learning to lead your birds, you’ll be shooting like a pro in no time. A final note on etiquette (something of paramount importance when dealing with armed, competing individuals): Watch your shells! There are few things more distracting when trying to hit a target than being whacked in the head or arm with a carelessly ejected shell. In order to stay in your competition’s good graces, catch your shell or carefully eject it away from the crowd; it’s sort of like the 12-gauge shotgun version of “be kind, rewind.”