SPARTA — Bob Fritz missed one of the first targets he shot Saturday during the Grand American Handicap. But, that would be his lone mistake as the Staunton resident bested the field to claim the prestigious title at Sparta’s World Shooting and Recreational Complex.
“I shot out of my mind today,” Fritz said. “I won’t lie about it.”
Curiously enough, it might have been the early miss that steered him to the Grand American title.
“Everything just fell into place today,” Fritz said. “I missed a straightaway on the first one out, the first 25. Then I said, ‘The heck with it, just relax.’ I was having some problems aiming my gun, not pointing. I concentrated a little bit more today.”
That attitude carried him through the rest of the 100 targets. Fritz broke 99 out of 100, tying him with Jamie Hardesty of Kentucky, Jeff Rempel of Minnesota and Ed Harris also of Kentucky.
In the shoot-off, Fritz (22.5 yards), Hardesty (21 yards) and Rempel (22 yards) all shot on the same field. Harris was put on a separate field because he shoots from 24.5 yards.
“I’d rather be with other people,” Fritz said. “When I shot today we only had two people, just me and another guy. That’s tough when you don’t have a full squad. You can keep the rhythm (with a full squad). Otherwise you have to wait in between.
“You have to make your own rhythm and there is more pressure.”
And, he took advantage of the situation.
Fritz, who shoots a K-80 Krieghoff, nicked one or two of the targets early in the shoot-off, but turned the last target into powder.
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“I knew I had it won already, because they both missed two,” he said.
Moments after walking off the field, he learned Harris had missed one shot on the adjacent field.
He allowed himself a wide grin and one celebratory fist pump before admitting the nerves from early in the day returned during the shoot-off.
“Oh yeah, I was nervous,” Fritz said. “I won’t lie about it, I was very nervous.”
He shot trap as a young man, but took several years off while raising a family.
“I started about 9-10 years ago,” Fritz said. “I shot when I was younger, but then we had kids and I couldn’t afford it.
“I won 13th about four years ago. I’ve been in a slump. I got lucky. I’d rather be lucky than good.”
Despite his obvious excitement, Fritz said he’d have no trouble sleeping Saturday night.
“Oh no,” he said. “I’m going to go home and have a couple of Scotch and waters.”