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Recent Canby High School grad Brandon Slater made the absolute most of his last outing as captain of the trap shooting team this weekend, shooting a perfect 100 in the final round of the 2022 USA High School Clay Target League National Championship to finish first among Oregon competitors and 21st in the country.
For Slater, it was the perfect end to his high school trap shooting career.
“It was pretty cool to be able to finish that way,” he told the Current in a phone conversation Wednesday. “That’s the way to do it.”
Slater killed 96 of 100 clay pigeons in the first round Saturday to advance to the finals, then vaulted up the standings with his straight on the second day. Out of the 400 top shooters who qualified for the finals, only 18 shot a straight.
It was the first time Slater had ever shot a perfect 100 in a competition.
“I was just kind of dialed in,” he explained. “After that first day, I knew I was capable of doing it and I needed to do it, so I just set myself to making that happen.”
The pressure mounted as the dead birds piled up, but Slater said his experience and training kicked in.
“I guess I’ve shot so many competitions I know how to take out the stress,” he said. “I just reminded myself to shoot the targets one at a time until the very end, like you’re supposed to do.”
The rest of the Canby contingent — which included his father and assistant coach Jerry Slater and teammates Tyler Schweitzer, Elijah Rowley, Kaeden Eide and Isaac Odell — were there to cheer on his sensational performance.
“My dad was pretty excited,” he said. “The team was pretty into it. Some of them were probably more nervous than I was, to be honest.”
Held annually at the MTA Homegrounds in Mason, Michigan, the championship featured more than 3,000 of the nation’s best clay target student athletes.
Rowley was the only other Canby athlete to make it to day two, shooting 96 the first day and 91 the second for an overall score of 187. Schweitzer, who claimed first in the state tournament last month, barely missed the finals cut with a first-day score of 93, finishing in 467th place.
Eide broke 79 in his first day and Odell added 77 to round out the scoring for Canby. The Cougs finished 123rd in the team competition with a score of 453.
“It was really cool,” Slater said of this trip to nationals — his third. “It’s a unique experience, not something you get to do very often. It was great hanging out with the team and meeting new people from all across the country.”
Slater first took up the sport at the age of 10, when he heard about a free program for kids to learn trap shooting at the Canby Rod and Gun Club.
“I tried it and got hooked,” he admitted. “The shooting is super fun, and it’s really cool the people you meet and the places you get to go. What you learn from the experience of performing under stress makes you more confident in all aspects of life.”
Though his high school career is complete, Slater has no intention of hanging up his 12 gauge just yet. He said he plans to continue to participate in local competitions as well as return to the Canby High School team as an assistant coach next year.
“I’ve been team captain for a few years now and have a lot of fun teaching the new shooters,” he said. “I think I’ll enjoy coaching a lot.”
He won’t be the first alumnus on the coaching staff, as 2020 CHS grad Mat Eubanks also came back into the fold this season to help lead the team to the first state title in the program’s history.
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