CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Gary Caperna pulled a fast one on his competitors at the Oregon Skeet Shooting State Championships in July. Caperna, who started shooting skeet in January, won the top award at the event, beating out the highest ranked shooters in the state.
“I got on. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t miss,” Caperna said. “I think I hit 178 straight without a miss, and prior to that getting 25 straight was a hallmark.”
Caperna took up the sport at the urging of his friend Jim Roos. Roos saw a parallel between golf, which Gary played his whole life, and skeet shooting.
“There’s movement, full-body movement,” Caperna said. “You have to be able to forget about the past if you make a bad shot, and you have to be able to concentrate for a very short period of time.”
It’s the mental part of the game that really attracted Caperna. His father, Ron, was a professional golfer in the Rogue Valley for years.
“My dad used to always talk about visualizing the golf ball flowing through the air and how it hits the green and backs up, and this sport, skeet, is very similar,” Caperna said. “You have to visualize the movement of the bird. You have to visualize the gun. Your eyes have to follow it, and you have to visualize it breaking.”
Caperna never visualized this much success in such a short time.
“I never imagined shooting at this level, certainly not this quick,” Caperna said. “I suppose as I got into it, I hoped to improve and hoped to be competitive and not embarrass myself.”
“He’s hooked,” Roos said. “We’ll see him with more cups and a big smile on his face. That’s Gary.”
As the cups increase and the success continues, Caperna is believing in himself more and more.
“Right before I shoot, I say to myself that you can break this target,” Caperna said. “You will break this target.”