BLUE SPRINGS – Brian Foley didn’t think much of it when he was blasting clay targets with his “beat-up Beretta” on a neighbor’s skeet shooting range at age 8.
But the young shooter from Bakersfield, Calif., caught the attention of others.
“Everyone else noticed I was a good shooter before me,” said Foley, now 18, who won the Junior Division high overall title Sunday at the National Skeet Shooting Association’s Junior World Championship at Whitetail Ridge Outdoors. “They were pushing me to shoot in shoots.
“When I finally won something, it just took off. I thought it was cool.”
Foley, who drove 30 hours to Mississippi to compete, won his division in a shootoff after posting a four-gun score of 398×400. He won the division’s doubles, 12-gauge and 20-gauge gun championships. He finished runner-up in the 28-gauge. He ran 100×100 in all four events.
In the 410-bore, he connected on 98×100 targets, but lost in a shootoff.
“I shot pretty well,” said Foley, who competed at Whitetail Ridge when it last hosted the Junior World shoot in 2005. “This is a nice facility.”
More than 150 junior shooters in three classifications – sub junior, junior and collegiate – from 23 states competed Thursday through Sunday in the annual event.
The shoot’s other high overall winners were: Sub Junior Male, Cameron Coggins (Ala.); Sub Junior Female, Rachael Shuford (Calif.); Junior Male, Brian Foley (Calif.); Junior Female, Abby Leeder (Texas); Collegiate Male, Michael Snyder (Ga.); Collegiate Female, Tiffany Davis (N.Y.).
Ripley’s Jonathan Hopper won the Collegiate Division 410-bore championship.
Foley, who has since graduated from the Beretta (the neighbor with the skeet range sold it to him for a dollar) to a $14,000 Kolar model shotgun, made his mark on the sport this year when he won the 12-gauge NSSA open division world championship in San Antonio.
He beat 13 other shooters, including two of the sport’s heavyweights – former World champions Todd Bender and Wayne Mayes – in an hour-plus shootoff for the gun title.
“I did what I had to do,” said Foley, who has signed to shoot collegiately next season for Lindenwood (Mo.) University, the six-time defending national skeet champion. “I guess it was just my determination that won it.”
Foley said the realization of what he had accomplished on the world stage against veteran world champion shooters didn’t sink in until the next day.
“Then it was overwhelming,” he said. “It gave my confidence a giant boost.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal