Tyler Thomas is the first to admit that he’s a laid back kind of guy.
“I really don’t get that excited,” the 18-year-old Pinckneyville resident said. “It takes a lot to get me excited.”
It’s difficult not to take him at his word. There was hardly a hint of excitement in his voice when Thomas spoke about winning the AIM (Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship) sporting clays title last week. AIM in the youth shooting arm of the Amateur Trapshooting Association.
The AIM championships were held July 28 through Aug. 1.
“I had a very good weekend,” he said matter-of-factly. “After I got through with my first course, I realized I was on and I was focused, everything was working out alright.”
Thomas also has a knack for understatement. He finished the first round of sporting clays, breaking 99 of 100 targets. He had a six-bird lead going into the final round.
Did he lose any sleep thinking about that lead? Not likely.
“It doesn’t really bother me that much,” Thomas said. “I won by seven birds. I knew the first day I was up by six birds. I realized if I stayed where I was at I would win.’
He capped the 99 with a 96 in the final round to win going away. The 195 score was a career best.
Thomas said his demeanor is an asset while shooting.
“It helps a lot,” the Pinckneyville High School graduate said. “You can go miss a bird and you’ll get upset and you’ll miss the next one because you’re all ticked off. I usually stop and get myself focused again. I’ll go back and start over.”
Thomas has been shooting competitively for eight years. Sporting clays is his favorite discipline. Sporting clays targets are meant to mimic various types of game, ranging from flushing teal to bounding rabbits.
“It’s a lot more interesting, there are a lot of different birds,” he said. “It’s not like sitting on the trap field and shooting the same birds. And, you get to talk to your friends a little more.”
Thomas reached the master class in sporting clays at age 14. He has been a sporting clays All-American the past three years. He shoots a Zoli Kronos.
As for the other disciplines? He does OK in those as well.
During the AIM competition, Thomas shot 500 targets, breaking 484. He shot two rounds of trap, breaking 96 targets each time.
“I got to shoot four days with my friends and have fun,” he said. “If you don’t go there and talk to people, you might as not even go. But, I do like the competition part too. I am competitive.”