When Ian Lawrence of Herrin sets his eyes on a target, don’t get in his way.
The 16-year-old was introduced to trapshooting in 2012. He shot at his first Grand American in 2015. Six months later, he earned his spot at the 27-yard-line in handicap (the equivalent of a black belt in karate). Last year, he was captain of the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s Sub-Junior (15-and under) All-American team.
Lawrence’s performance at this year’s Grand American, which concludes tomorrow at Sparta’s World Shooting and Recreational Complex, will determine whether he will earn captain’s honors on the Junior All-American (16-18) team.
There was nothing surprising about Lawrence earning All-American honors.
“It was something I said, ‘You know mom, this is what I want to do this year. I want to be determined and do it,’” he said. “I worked hard all year and did my best. It was a rough battle, but it ended up coming out like I hoped it would.”
This year, Lawrence finds himself shooting against older, more experienced competitors, but the outcome could be the same.
“It is tough,” he said. “There are very tough competitors. Everyone is more mature. They’ve been doing it a little bit longer. They’ve found their own little tips and tricks to shoot better. This year I’ll come out either top or second on the All-American team, depending on how I do at the Grand. I will definitely be in the top three.”
Not bad for someone who tried the sport on a whim.
“I started in 2012,” Lawrence said. “I went to a local, the Fin and Feather has a trap, they had a fun shoot one day. I went out there and shot. There was a coach there and said I shot pretty well and he wanted me to shoot for his team. That’s how I got started shooting registered targets.
“It just kind of happened.”
It didn’t take long for Lawrence to figure out that trap is largely a mental game that fits his personality.
“There are a lot of things,” he said. “You have to have great gun movement. You have to see the target to see the gun movement. Your head has to be 100 percent on breaking the next target. When it’s your turn to shoot, you have to be ready to see that target. When you call for that target, you have to be ready to shoot that target.
“You can’t get angry if you miss a target. That will just make you mad. Then you’ll miss more because you are thinking about it.”
There are many other opportunities for concentration to falter.
“You have to shoot in the wind, rain, and sunshine,” Lawrence said. “And, the heat takes a huge toll on a shooter’s body. When that sun is beating down on you and you have sweat in your eyes, you have to see that target. You have to be able to shoot in the wind, in the rain, and not everybody can do that.”
He also enjoys the individual nature of the sport. When you miss, there are no excuses. It’s just the shooter and the target.
“Oh yeah, I see myself doing it until the day I die,” Lawrence said. “It is the sport of a lifetime. You can do it when you’re sitting down or standing up. It’s a sport for anybody. Anybody can go out there, pick up a gun, shoot the targets, and have fun.”