Trapshooting is one of the few sports available where gender and age don’t seem to matter much. That’s what Nora Ross, who hails from Kentucky, believes, anyway.
“In golf and baseball, the average woman won’t hit a ball as far as the average guy, but in trapshooting, ladies, juniors, older people, can all do this sport and you only have to be physically fit enough to lift the gun,” said Ross, who will make her first seminar appearance at Game Fair, which begins Aug. 11 at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels near Anoka.
“When I first started, it was known as a man’s sport, and I personally got a thrill out of beating the men because of all those folks who’d say you can’t do this because you’re a girl,” she said.
Even though there are trapshooting teams, Ross said she likes how it’s a sport in which you compete against everybody. “It’s only you out there, at that moment, and it’s an individual thing you have to accomplish.”
Despite her competitive spirit, Ross said she loves how the trapshooting world is like a big family full of great people.
A lifetime of competitive shooting has given her plenty of opportunities to observe that firsthand and live it herself.
“Trapshooting is one sport where everybody is heads up and it’s very equal for all people who are willing to put in the time to get better at it,” she said.
Helping make people better in the sport is something Ross knows a lot about. She’s one of the best trap shooters in the world.
The list of accolades Ross has accumulated throughout her trapshooting career is impressive. She’s a 34-time All-American, 15-time All American Ladies Captain, and a 30-time Trap and Field Average winner. She has more than 170 Grand American trophies, more than 260 Satellite Grand Championships, and she’s the owner of hundreds of southern zone and Kentucky zone titles.
And those aren’t even her greatest accomplishments.
The first such honor came in 1990 when she won the Grand American Doubles Championship, defeating Ray Stafford, one of the best trap shooters ever.
“They give a big old Super Bowl-style ring to the five champions and there had never been a woman to do that,” she said. “Beating probably the best doubles shooter at that time was the icing on the cake.”
During that championship, Ross became the first woman to break 100 straight doubles at the Grand American and scored a 120×120 in that shoot-off.
With such an illustrious career, it’s no wonder that she was inducted into the Amateur Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame in 1999.
Ross began shotgun shooting in 1973 when she was a 6th-grader dove hunting with her dad.
“I was the bird dog when he went hunting. When he would practice, they used a big spool with a hand-set trap that you’d pull with a string, and I wanted to try it,” she said.
She was given a shotgun to shoot and it knocked her onto the ground. “It kicked the crap out of me and it’s amazing that I continued with it, but it was something I wanted to show them I could do.”
It was made apparent to her at that time that shooting a shotgun and shooting trap were activities reserved for men. Being told she couldn’t do it was all the motivation Ross needed.
The next year she went to visit the Kentucky state shoot and was astonished to see 10 fields loaded with hundreds of trap shooters. After a year of practice, she participated in her first registered shoot in August 1975 and scored a 128/200.
It wasn’t a winning score, but Ross knew she’d found something she really enjoyed and believed she could be good at. In 1976, she won the first of her more than 170 Grand American trophies with the junior Class B award in Class Singles with a score of 194/200.
In 1978, she shot her first 200 in singles at the West Virginia state shoot. She continued to get better throughout high school. After graduating, she kept honing her skills, paying the bills by working odd jobs, including work on a shrimp boat.
“I was Forrest Gump for six years, pulling up shrimp nets with no telling what comes up inside,” she said.
In 1981, she shot her first 100 in doubles and became the first woman in ATA history to break 100 straight in doubles.
“A few years before that, my father told me he’d buy me a new car if I ever broke 100 in doubles, but I don’t think he thought I’d do it. I did it on a Sunday, and by Wednesday I was driving a maroon and gold Turbo Trans Am.”
In her career she’s shot 100 straight in doubles 24 times, but the first one stands out as the most special, because it’s the only one that earned her a car.
Love of coaching
A lot of the trap shooters Ross works with are just starting out in the sport or are unseasoned league shooters. Her enjoyment comes from watching her students progress from awkwardly shooting at the beginning of the day to being much improved by the end – and seeing that look on their faces. “I’ve been there and done that, so it’s fun to see them get that enthusiasm and want to keep doing it because I remember being there myself.”
Ross is amazed by the growth of the sport in recent years and is happy to see so many high school-age trap shooters across the country.
At Game Fair she’ll host free shooting clinics twice a day (1 p.m. and 4 p.m.) all six days of the event, in the shotgun shooting area near the main entrance.
First time to Game Fair
Chuck and Loral I Delaney have known Ross ever since she was a young woman new to the world of competitive trapshooting.
“That’s when Loral I was one of the best in the world and Nora was a young girl who idolized her,” Chuck Delaney said. “We’ve kept in contact with her and her mother over the years.”
Loral I Delaney was inducted into the ATA Hall of Fame in 1989, exactly 10 years before Ross. This will be the first time Ross has attended Game Fair, and she’s excited to take it all in and meet young trap shooters in Minnesota.
Chuck Delaney has extended a special invitation to more than 300 high school trapshooting coaches and team members.
High school trap team members are encouraged to wear their team shirts and register with Ross either at her seminar or booth. All team members who attend and register will be entered into Game Fair’s grand prize drawing.
Additionally, Game Fair will donate the cost of admission back to the home gun club designated on the registration form.
“The gun club will be able to decide how they want to use the funds to promote high school trapshooting in Minnesota,” Delaney said.
Ross will demonstrate her techniques at Game Fair and have some of the audience members shoot to provide examples of what can be done to improve. Her husband, Randy Ross, is also an accomplished trap shooter and will also be at Game Fair providing instruction with Nora.
When asked what she thinks most trap shooters could improve she said, “There’s so much about the setup that people could improve upon, and most of that happens before they ever say ‘pull’.”
People often mistakenly make their shot harder by not standing right, not holding the gun correctly, and not looking in the right place.
“I’m a one-eyed shooter, and even when I started I was told if you didn’t shoot with two eyes you couldn’t ever get to be that good. That’s a direction people are given but you can do it,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you have one eye, two eyes, or three eyes. If you don’t have the gun on the bird, you won’t hit it.”
Man or woman, young or old, one or multi-eyed – if you want to become a better trap shooter, Ross has some sound advice worth hearing in person at Game Fair.