Shooting star of Baldwin Township

Jason Vlasak of Princeton pictured with his Perazzi MX2000 trap gun and the awards he earned at the mid-July Minnesota State Trap Shoot.  Photos by Greg Hunt

Jason Vlasak of Princeton pictured with his Perazzi MX2000 trap gun and the awards he earned at the mid-July Minnesota State Trap Shoot. Photos by Greg Hunt

Jason Vlasak scores perfect 100 to win state trap title:  Jason Vlasak of Princeton strung together a great weekend of shooting to come home with a state trap championship. A fantastic bonus was shooting alongside his father, who was also one of his closest competitors.

Closing out the 2013 American Trap Association’s Minnesota State Shoot hosted at the Alexandria Shooting Park on July 14, Vlasak blasted a perfect 100 clay pigeons to win the Minnesota Handicap Championship. For that accomplishment, Vlasak was awarded an engraved leather shell case along with a 100×100 pin.

The Handicap Championship is one of the major titles at the State Shoot, which is filled with several shooting divisions for both residents and nonresidents.

“The Handicap is based on distances; the better the shooter you are, the further back you go,” Vlasak said. “The position distances range from 18 to 27 yards, and I was shooting at 26 yards on that day.”

The perfect 100 score was the first one for Vlasak while shooting in the Handicap division. In the past, he has posted 100s while shooting in Singles, which is where all competitors shoot at 16 yards.

“That Sunday in Alexandria, the wind was blowing and there was rain moving in, so it wasn’t exactly ideal conditions,” Vlasak added.

The Handicap Championship sends groups of five to the line where they move one position up after every five birds. A full box is shot at one target station, then the group rotates to three more stations around the park to complete the competition, adding to the difficulty. Vlasak’s father, Dennis Vlasak, of Maple Grove, was in his group of five shooters.

“I was watching my dad because he was lead-off for our group, and I was the third shooter. Dad was straight (perfect) also for the first 50. So that was kind of a little motivation, you know, to keep going,” said Vlasak. “The professionals who do it all the time tell you not to think about that kind of stuff, but sometimes it’s hard not to. You’re not supposed to count your losses or track anyone else.

“I was watching his targets, and I think everybody in the squad was watching my targets and my dad’s. Then on the third trap, my dad missed on his 12th target (the 62nd shot).

“So on the last five targets, I rotated back around to position two. I knew what I needed to do to break them. That last target – I didn’t look at anybody at that time, just concentrating on that last target coming out. Made sure to mount the gun right.

“Then after I broke it, my dad was on station five, and I looked at him and he gave me the big thumbs up. That moment there I will never forget.”

A close-up of the spoils for Jason Vlasak’s great shooting weekend in Alexandria: An engraved leather shell case for his Minnesota Handicap Championship, a silver belt buckle for his High All-Around total, and a silver bowl to commemorate a runner-up finish in the Minnesota Doubles Championship.

A close-up of the spoils for Jason Vlasak’s great shooting weekend in Alexandria: An engraved leather shell case for his Minnesota Handicap Championship, a silver belt buckle for his High All-Around total, and a silver bowl to commemorate a runner-up finish in the Minnesota Doubles Championship.

Dennis Vlasak, shooting at 23 yards in the Championship, closed with just that one miss for a runner-up 99. He received a smaller leather shell case for his award.

Also at Alexandria on July 12, Jason Vlasak shot a 94 to place runner-up in the Minnesota Doubles Championship (two birds released at once). For that, he was awarded a silver bowl trophy. He also accumulated a total score of 389 of 400 targets in the Minnesota High All-Around Championship division, earning a silver belt buckle for that high placing.

Putting on miles for the trap season

The Vlasaks shoot regularly at the Monticello Gun Club. Their four-man team is enjoying a fine summer, taking first in singles and second in handicap the first half of the season, which runs to the end of August.

Dennis Vlasak has been shooting trap since 1970, and Jason Vlasak began in 1988 when they lived in Maple Grove, shooting primarily at the Metro Gun Club in Blaine. Over the years, Jason Vlasak found pheasant hunting to be his favorite autumn activity with a gun. He also loves bow hunting for whitetails, primarily working the woods of northern Wisconsin.

A first big shooting title for Jason Vlasak came in 1997 when he won the Missouri Budweiser Handicap.

“That was pretty exciting, there,” he recalled. “I won that one in a shoot-off.”

With his Italian expertly crafted Perazzi MX2000 trap gun, Jason Vlasak said the shooting doesn’t wear on his shoulder.

“But you just get physically tired during a long tournament,” he said. “Like last weekend, we shot a little 300-target marathon at Del Tone where I broke a 98, 100 and 99.

“I’m using those numbers to try to qualify for the Minnesota state team, based on a combination of your overall average for handicap, singles and doubles. To qualify, you have to have 2,000 singles in, 1,500 handicap targets and 1,000 doubles in by Sept. 1. With the not-so-friendly spring we had, everybody’s kind of falling behind to get enough targets in to qualify.”

This weekend, the two Vlasaks will be going to the Iowa State Shoot, which is a huge draw for trap gunners in the ATA’s Central Zone (Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin). Jason Vlasak also has local trap tournaments at Del Tone and Monticello to help him reach his required numbers for state team qualification.

“If I can keep shooting the way I am, I have a good chance,” he said. “Last year, I missed it essentially by a half a target. All it is, is a patch and your name goes into a book, but it’s something to shoot for, I guess.”

Then, from Aug. 7-17, the Grand American in Sparta, Ill., will be the last big tourney for this season where Jason Vlasak plans to shoot in the Championship targets division.

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