AUGUSTA — Chuck Korte of Augusta has spent nearly 50 years competing in a sport he loves — trapshooting.
"I started when I was a young man. It has always been important to me. I have met a lot of good people, a lot of good friends," Korte said. "You don’t realize how good it has been to you until you are later in life and look back on it."
Starting in his 20s, he is now 73. He is still shooting — and still winning.
"I have shot all my life. It is a major part of my life," Korte said.
Just this last week he won a handicap title Central Zone of a Kansas Trapshooting Association event in Wichita. Korte said he was in the lead of the senior division, but had a chance to get a zone win in the handicap shoot.
"I was happy to shoot off with our club president, Rob Taylor," Korte said.
That came on the heels of a third place finish in the Mike Herman Yardage Handicap at the Grand American Trapshoot last month in Missouri.
"I have had a good year. I have good times," Korte said.
Trapshooting is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon. In trap, targets are launched from a single house, or machine, generally away from the shooter.
In handicap, shooters are placed at different distances based on their demonstrated ability.
"Handicap is probably the toughest discipline of shooting. you shoot on yardage that you have attained," Korte said. "If you win, you get yardage and they move you back. If you shoot consistently good, you stay back on yardage. It makes it fair ... It makes it fair for the guys that do not shoot as often."
He said he sees a lot of good, young shooters when he competes — though many do not stick with the sport as they find it expensive.
Getting started, he said, does not have to be difficult.
"You have to go to a gun club and find a friend who knows what they are doing, and about the right equipment," Korte said.
As for equipment, Korte has been using a custom-built 12 gauge for several years — a gun built by shooter Bill Cole, one of only 119 ever made. His is number 44.
"I have shot a lot of good guns over the years," Korte said. "This gun, I have shot 50,000 rounds. I could go out and shoot 1,000 today... It is very dependable."
But there’s also technique —
Learning the right technique is important.
"Listen to someone who has done it a while," Korte said.
And find somewhere to practice — whether that be a gun club or a local league.
"I shoot in a league in Wichita during the summer," Korte said. "Now, I mainly just shoot tournaments."