The 54th Canadian International Trap Championships took place this past weekend at the Toronto International Sport Shooting Centre in Cookstown.
This year’s trap shooting event was open to all Canadian competitors to participate in, with many vying for national team consideration.
The competition was also open to foreign competitors, with five countries represented. There were shooters from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as one competitor from India.
With about 40 participants on hand, Jasmine Northcott, CEO of the Shooting Federation of Canada, was happy with the turnout.
“This weekend, we have the best shooters in Canada and from around the world competing,” she said.
By the time the crack of the rifles ended and the smell of sulphur from the shells faded, one young athlete’s achievement stood out above all others.
Blake Histrop, 11, of Niagara Falls, now a seventh-generation trap shooter in his family going back to 1864, stole the show with his surprising performance.
Gordon Histrop, Blake’s grandfather, who is 72 and has been shooting since he was nine, won the Canadian national title in Olympic trap in 1998. He was brought to tears by his grandson’s achievement.
“Fantastic,” he said while overcome by emotion after Blake finished his round where he shot 16 out of 25. “Give me a minute.”
“This is his first try at trap,” he said, beaming, with tears in his eyes. “His scores have been going up and up and up. His highest before today was 12 yesterday. He’s been going up every round, and I can’t believe it. He’s shooting at a very good junior level right now, and he’s only 11 years old.”
Blake’s father, Jaimie, 43, also a high-level competitor in the sport, was just as proud of his son.
“This is his fifth round ever of international trap, and he’s averaging a three-targets-a-round increase, which is probably… I don’t know. I’ve never seen it before,” he said.
“It looks to be a very positive weekend,” he added, noting the average score for beginners is usually in the single digits. “This is an Olympic level that he is competing in. These are the national trials for the Canadian team, and he’s 11. Like I said, this is just his fifth round. He’s never even shot it before. The national team champion (Colin Grover, who is heading to the world championships in two weeks) was just commenting this morning about how long he’s been shooting, and I said that it’s only his fifth round. He couldn’t believe it. He shouldn’t be breaking what he’s breaking. It’s marvellous, really.”
What does Blake’s dad attribute that to?
“I have kind of thrown the kids into the fire over the years. The last four years, he’s been shooting a lot of different disciplines, and I think just the difficulty of discipline we’ve been shooting has helped him progress into this.”
Where does the young shooter go from here?
“I don’t know,” said Jaimie. “On Monday night (last week), he says, ‘You know what? I think I’ll tag along (to this weekend’s event).’”
He asked his son if he wanted to shoot the program, but Blake decided to only shoot practice.
“So, he shot practice on Wednesday morning, and went from scoring a two to a six to a 10 in three rounds. He then said, ‘Dad, I want to shoot the program,’ so he went on to shoot the next day with a 10, eight and a 12,” Jaime said.
“And now he just fired a 16 today, out of 25, so I’m very impressed, and so is everyone else.”
Susan Nattrass, 72, a legend in the sport as a seven-time women’s world champion, who has competed in six Olympic games, is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1981 as Canada’s top athlete, was shocked when learning of the Blake’s latest big score.
“I think it’s great. We have got some good young shooters coming up and are shooting well,” she said.
“I would tell them to work hard, they have to practice, and they have to be physically, mentally and emotionally in shape, and to enjoy it.”
On Monday afternoon, BradfordToday spoke with Blake by phone and got caught up on the progress he made over the final day of the weekend competition.
After scoring 14 after his impressive 16 on Saturday, he nailed an equally impressive 15 and 14 in his rounds of 25 on the final day of competing, which was good enough to land him a fifth-place finish in the junior category.
A humble boy of few words who takes it all in stride, he said he was happy with how it turned out and is aiming for the next event in Toronto in September — the Ontario provincial championships.
What do his friends think of all this?
“I haven’t told them yet,” he said.
He enters Grade 7 this fall, and will no doubt have a great story to tell his classmates about what he accomplished this summer.