Wellsville youngster shoots to top of sport

One of the top competitors in his age group nationally, Hull has haul of hardware in trapshooting

? The identified flying objects never had a chance. In about two seconds, two clay disks became neon orange fireworks.

Around 4 p.m. on a stagnant summer afternoon, gun blasts echoed through the rolling hills of the Vinland area as Bryan Hull reloaded his shotgun.

Hull and his father, Howard, were shooting doubles at Cedar Hill Gun Club outside of Baldwin.

In trapshooting, 100 clay targets fly across the backdrop of a shooting range. Bryan is a listed as an “A” shooter, meaning he should hit about 95 of the targets.

The Wellsville native usually does – despite the fact he’s only 12 years old.

Make no mistake: Bryan Hull knows how to handle the 81â2-pound gun resting in his arms. He’s one of the top shooters in the country for his age, and he has the hardware to prove it.

Most recently, Hull won three out of the four top categories in the sub junior division at the Kansas Trapshooters Assn. tournament June 7-12 in Wichita, winning singles, doubles and high overall score.

In August, he took part in the International Junior Olympic Shotgun Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. Although 100 participants were invited, only five other shooters were younger than 15.

This summer, he’ll compete in about 10 tournaments, including the Grand American National Trapshooting Championships in Vandalia, Ohio, in the middle of August.

Lifetime sport

Bryan Hull, a 12-year-old from Wellsville, waits his turn to shoot. Hull was practicing with his father, Howard, last week at the Cedar Hill Gun Club near Vinland.

Bryan’s mother, Lorna, discovered youth trapshooting through a 4-H Club in Paola, and Bryan officially started the sport when he was 11.

“It’s a lifetime sport, and it’s fun,” Bryan said. “That and I wanted to meet some kids.”

Early in his involvement in the 4-H events, Hull, now a student at Country Side Christian School outside of Wellsville, realized he wanted to participate at a more competitive level.

His father, a chiropractor, became his coach, and the two started to spend a large portion of their free time at Cedar Hill or the Marais des Cygnes Sporting Park in Ottawa.

“He would be the coach that got me to where I could shoot 25 out of 25,” Bryan Hull said. “(He) helped me along the way, basically. He gave me pointers and told me what I was doing wrong.”

“And what he did right,” the elder Hull quickly countered. “The big part about trapshooting is knowing what you did wrong and knowing what you did right and making up the difference between them.

“I think it teaches a lot about life skills. : He’s learning how to finish something and to set goals to accomplish things in a timely manner.”

‘Natural ability’

Howard started to shoot competitively only when his son became serious about the sport, so he enlisted the help of several of the area’s top shooters.

In some cases – as with Jim Hedgecock, a 67-year-old member of the veterans 2005 All-American team of the Amateur Trapshooting Assn. from Stilwell – the help came to the Hulls.

Twelve-year-old Bryan Hull loads his shotgun during a trapshooting session. The Wellsville native practiced last week at Cedar Hill Gun Club near Baldwin.

About a year and a half ago, Hedgecock was at Cedar Hill when a young shooter caught his eye.

“He really drew my attention because of his form and the way he was handling himself,” Hedgecock said. “Kids that age without proper training : they just don’t handle firearms like that.

“He has a lot of natural ability. Some have it and some don’t, and some never get it. I will predict that boy will have an excellent shot at a college scholarship. He just has that desire. He wants to be good. He wants to excel.”

The Hulls said they were drawn to the sport because of the “lifetime” factor – the fact that a 12-year-old with braces can shoot in a team format along with a man who is decades older.

“That’s a uniqueness about the sport the longevity and the time you have to compete,” Lorna Hull said.

“I started at 10 years old,” Bryan said. “I know a guy, John, who’s 89. He’s still shooting. He loves the sport, loves the game.”

John Kasberger actually is 84, and he still shoots twice a week in the summer. A few years back, the Lawrence resident started wearing a hat with “Older Than Dirt” written on it. Now, some people at Cedar Hill only know him by that moniker.

“It draws quite a few comments, so I kept on wearing it,” Kasberger said with a slight chuckle.

Hull has his short-term goals lined up – and he hit his first target at a recent shoot at the Lone Tree Gun Club in Iola when he hit all 100 clay disks.

Others goals include getting sponsors, getting a college shooting scholarship, and, “I want to get on the 27-yard line,” Bryan Hull said.

The ultimate honor in trapshooting is an eight-yard handicap; Bryan currently shoots from the 24-yard line.

Beyond that, Hull has modest aspirations.

“My ultimate goal would probably have to be to be one of the best in the nation,” Hull said, “but, really, that would be about it.”