Webster has shot his way to success

By Justin Schuver

Christopher Webster, an 18-year-old from Bainbridge, has already made a name for himself in the sport of competitive shooting.

Webster, who is a 2012 Bainbridge High School graduate and currently a freshman at Valdosta State University, has been competitively shooting since his days as a student in the county’s 4-H program.

“I started in 4-H, with their modified trap shooting program, and I did pretty well at it my first year,” said Webster, the son of Mike and Marcella Webster. “The next year, I wasn’t quite as good at it, so I wanted to find a coach who could help me improve, and it just went from there.”

That coach was Mike Simpson of Hartsfield, Ga., who coaches at the Bridge Creek Clays and South Georgia Youth Shooting Club. Simpson is also an assistant coach for the USA Shooting Junior National Team.

Earlier this year, in February, Webster was named to the men’s double trap team, on the U.S. Junior Olympic Shotgun Team, one of just 22 shooters named to the team and one of four double trap shooters on the team.

Webster has competed in competitions across the country, including Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts and Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. In a recent “fall selections” competition in Kerrville, Texas, he placed third in his division and came up just short of qualifying for a World Cup competition. The top two finishers qualify for the World Cup; however, as the first alternate, Webster will be able to attend if either of the top two are unable to participate.

Webster participates in the double trap team, which is so named because shooters must hit two targets in rapid succession.

“Doubles might be considered a little more difficult because you basically have one shot at each target,” he said. “With singles, you only have to shoot one target but you get two shots at it.”

Another good quality about doubles, according to Webster, is the community.

“In singles, you might have 100 or more shooters competing, but with doubles it’s usually a smaller group of competitors,” he said. “It helps form a closer-knit group, and I’ve made some friends that I see over and over again at competitions.”

Webster said that a shooter typically has only about half a second to react to the release of the target, and then to hit it. He explained that the best shooters are almost robotic in the consistency of their movements.

“It’s important to have good reflexes and hand-eye coordination,” he said. “But really the biggest thing you need is a strong mental focus. While you’re up there, you can’t really shoot with your conscious mind. You almost have to stop thinking and let your subconscious guide you.

“You actually have to go into that ‘zone’ and let your subconscious reflexes guide you. That’s what really separates the top shooters from the bottom. I’m still working on that part of my game, definitely.”

Webster shoots a Perazzi MX-2000 12-gauge over-and-under shotgun, and uses primarily Winchester AA shotgun shells and reloads. He said he only has one gun that he uses for competitions, but it has lasted his entire career.

“The competition guns are a little more expensive than other shotguns, so I really only have one, but it’s still in excellent shape despite having thousands of shells put through it,” he said.

Webster typically practices about three to four times a week in Hartsfield during the busiest times of the competition season. In the slower off-season he practices less often, but still has to work out enough to keep his reflexes sharp.

Although most competition sites have standardized measurements for the targets and shooting bunkers, each site has its own different idiosyncrasies that shooters must understand. Webster said most competitors typically practice on-site for at least a day before the competition to get used to any adjustments they might have to make.

“For example, at Kerrville, the machines are a little older so they can be a little finicky at times,” Webster said. “It’s also built in a valley where there’s some high-wind warnings, so you really have to get used to the wind and adjust to it.”

However, if a shooter believes that the conditions are wrong for a shot — such as if the machine throws a broken target or a target completely off the normal flight path — he can request a re-shot with no penalty if the judge agrees.

Webster said that he is “a little” into regular hunting, but doesn’t consider himself a large outdoors fan. However, he quickly became interested in competitive shooting and hopes to take it as far as he can.

“Right now my immediate goal is to make it to a World Cup,” he said.

Webster is studying computer engineering at Valdosta State University, and plans to focus on his engineering career rather than try to make a living as a professional shooter. However, it’s always going to be a hobby that he’ll return to, for the fun and the challenge.

“It’s just a really great, competitive sport,” he said.

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