The Courier-Tribune - September 3, 1990
By RICK GALLAGHER
Courier-Tribune Sports Writer
LIBERTY — Craig Kirkman possesses the great hand-and-eye coordination that all good athletes have.
In Kirkman's sport, it's an absolute necessity.
The 15-year-old Eastern Randolph High sophomore is a skeet shooter. A 1 1/2-inch tall target that is four inches in diameter and travels 45 miles per hour 15 feet off the ground is no match for Kirkman when he aims his sharp eye upon it. Pulling the trigger on his Kraieghoff Model 32 with Kolar tubes or Remington 1100 12-gauge gun, Kirkman will blow the moving object out of the air with great accuracy.
Kirkman is so proficient in skeet shooting that he was recently invited to Colorado Springs, Colo., home of the Olympic Training Center, as one of the National Skeet Association's top 20 juniors for a training seminar.
The purpose of the seminar was to introduce young skeet shooters to the rules of international competition and spur their interest into competing for a berth on a future Olympic team. According to Kirkman, international skeet shooting is much tougher because of two major differences. First, the gun has to be held down touching the waist and cannot be raised until the target comes out of the house. Second, the target may be thrown immediately or up to three seconds later.
Kirkman did quite well for his first experience with the international style, finishing fourth out of 10 other juniors he competed against. Kirkman broke 171 of 200 targets, while the champion had a 175 score.
Kirkman's performance was good enough to gain an invitation back to Colorado Springs next year, but at this time he said his Olympic future is on hold. Instead of pursuing a chance at the Olympics, Kirkman plans on concentrating his efforts toward winning the Junior World Championships in San Antonio, Texas next August.
Kirkman first began skeet shooting at the age of 12. He was a natural and quickly learned his lessons from his father Tommy, who has been involved in the sport for 20 years.
"Craig has a lot of potential," said the elder Kirkman. "Like any other sport, you need good physical ability and good hand-and-eye coordination is very important along with good peripheral vision."
The younger Kirkman attributes his success to lots of practice. During the summer, the Kirkmans will shoot at 200 targets each Wednesday and Sunday a the Liberty Gun Club's range.
"Skeet shooting takes a lot of practice" Kirkman said. "I also shoot a lot in the field and that helps. I've been hunting since I was 8 or 9."
Kirkman usually participates in matches once a month at various gun clubs throughout North Carolina. Jus last weekend he turned in his best-ever score with a 395 out of 400 at the Tar Heel Shooting Center in Advance. Among the titles he has won is the 1989 20-gauge State Open Championship in Pinehurst.