By Adam Gore/Special to the Journal
BLUE SPRINGS – The 40th edition of the Hillbilly Open came down to the final squeeze of the trigger in a pressure-packed situation on Sunday, no surprise to a legendary area gunman.
“When you put a pencil on it and start keeping score, no matter what the sport, it’s a whole new ballgame,” veteran marksman Tom Hollaway said about the intensity that comes with competitive skeet shooting.
Perennial Gun Champions Brian Rishel, of Dumas, and Chris Simmons, a native of Edmond, Okla., would not dispute the veteran’s words after the final round of the Open.
Rishel rolled through 399×400 shots overall to earn the 2010 Hillbilly Open High-Over-All Championship. Simmons broke 398 targets to finish runner-up.
Simmons missed early in the 28-guage and .410-bore events and knew that he would have to do something special to stay in the hunt for the HOA championship.
“I missed a high-four in the first box (of the 28-guage) and ran 75 straight. Then I missed a low-three in the first box (of the .410 event) and ran 75 straight after that,” said Simmons. “For me it was a very big accomplishment to miss a target early and to continue to shoot well.”
He could only sit back and watch as Rishel was rolling towards perfection heading into the final box of the .410 event when he misfired breaking his streak of over 375-straight targets broke.
“At that point you start to get nervous,” Rishel said about approaching the 400-straight breaks. “I’ve done it before where I’ve missed it in the third or fourth round when I’ve been rolling straight, but you just get nervous and make a mistake and that’s all it takes. It’s just that simple.”
“The total numbers of the event was down this year, but the quality of shooters was not down,” Rishel said about the nearly 40-shooter field. “I knew it was going to take a really good score to win and I was lucky enough to put together a good score.”
Simmons won the .410 event beating Rishel and Mike Schmidt of Coleman, Ga., in a sudden death shoot-off. Caile Bradham won the 28-gauge in a shoot-out over Rishel as both marksmen broke 100×100 targets in the morning event.
Schmidt finished in third place with 395 breaks in the race for the HOA championship.