DALMATIA – Tomorrow's Olympic clay bird shooting hopefuls are training today right here in central Pennsylvania.
Keystone Shooting Park, built on the grounds of Martz's Gap View Preserve between Shamokin and Sunbury by Allen Chubb, is the most modern facility of its type in the country. Since its May 1, 2011, opening the facility has seen amazing growth in participation from local, national and international shooting athletes.
Chubb, who is president of Chubb International Shooting Sports, said the importance that the state of the art, world class range has already played in training of athletes for last summer's Olympics in London was evident in the performance of United States athletes. Already Olympic hopefuls for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro are coming to the facility to begin honing their skills.
Before departing for last summer's Olympics in London, Corey Cogdell trained at KSP and competed in the Perazzi USA Grand Prix and won the event. Last week, Vince Hancock, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in Men's Skeet, presented a clinic for young shooters who hope to compete internationally.
"We consistently have athletes traveling as much as five hours each way on the weekends in order to train at Keystone Shooting Park," Chubb said. "Although KSP is dedicated solely to Olympic Shotgun Sports and is the first fully automated Olympic Shotgun Sports range in the world, the range is open to the public to allow shooters to try this unique style of shooting.
"Since we've opened we've had both college and high school athletes regularly traveling to train here from as far away as Massachusetts. That we've been able to attract these shooters is a combination of possessing a World Class range, hosting a wide array of high quality competitions, offering unhampered venue accessibility for training and providing our athletes with passionate and highly professional coaching.
"In the last two years I've trained athletes as young as 10 years old with Olympic dreams in their head and hearts. It's really rewarding to see their faces light up when they shoot a good round and even more so when they meet and engage in a lengthy conversation with one of the U.S. Team members or even an Olympian."
Last year, KSP received the designation as a Certified Training Center from USA Shooting, the national governing body for shotgun sports. In addition, KSP has been able to secure permanent corporate sponsorships from some of the major arms and ammunition manufacturers in the industry, including Perazzi (Italy), Kreighoff (Germany) and Beretta USA shotguns and Fiocchi (Italy) and Baschieri & Pellagri (Italy) ammunition.
KSP annually hosts a series of signature events honoring the commitment of each sponsoring company. Those events include a challenging schedule of events and support the training and athlete selection process for the Scholastic Clay Target Program and USA Shooting's Junior Olympic program.
For a complete schedule of events at Keystone Shooting Park and information on membership, visit the website at http://www.keystoneshootingpark.com/.