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Trap shooting among sports Baldwin grad participates in

| Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 6:13 p.m.
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Ashley Toth, a 2017 Baldwin graduate, competes in trap shooting.

She was a national qualifier as a member of the Baldwin competitive cheerleading team.

She was a state finalist in gymnastics during the winter months, and a shot put and pole vault specialist in the spring.

What does she do in her spare time?

Ashley Toth, a 2017 Baldwin graduate, competes in trap shooting.

“I've been involved in trap shooting since eighth grade,” Toth said, “but since I've been very busy with cheerleading and gymnastics, I probably only went a couple times a month. Since the end of cheer and gymnastics seasons, I've been going a lot; mostly every week.

“My dad and my brother have been shooting since I was 3. As soon as I was able to be behind a gun, whether it was hunting, trap shooting or even just shooting at targets, I was there. I love shooting in general, and since not many girls shoot at the club, I'm set apart. I like being able to sometimes out-shoot my brother and the other guys at the club.”

According to the Amateur Trapshooting Association, trapshooting is a specific form of clay target shooting. Trapshooting is a game of movement, action and split-second timing. It requires the accuracy and skill to repeatedly aim, fire and break the 4 14 inch discs which are hurled through the air at a speed of 42 miles per hour, simulating the flight path of a bird fleeing a hunter.

Trapshooting's expanding popularity is due to the fact that people of all ages, incomes and abilities can compete.

The shooter is required to shoot at a target after he or she calls “pull.” It does not matter in scoring whether the shooter hits only a small piece of the target or shatters the target. The target is considered a “dead” or “lost” bird. If the target is hit, it is “dead.” It is the shooter's responsibility to check his or her own score.

“Trap shooting is when there are five shooters on a line, and there are five different stations,” Toth said. “At each station, you call for a bird (clay pigeon) and shoot at it. You only get one chance to break the clay pigeon per bird you call. And you call for five birds at each station.

“When you are done with the fifth bird at that station, you switch and go to the next station. The goal is to hit all of the clay pigeons at every station to get a score of 25 of 25.”

Registered trapshooting competition is regulated by the Amateur Trapshooting Association. Gun clubs hold shoots in accordance with ATA rules, but they must apply and register for each shoot.

All participants at these shoots must be ATA members. The shooters scores are recorded in the ATA office, where all records are kept and yearly averages computed. The records are used for handicapping and classifying shooters.

In registered trapshooting, the rules specify that targets must be thrown no less than 48 yards and no more than 52 yards, and should be between 8 and 12 feet high and 10 yards from the trap. Shooters stand a minimum of 16 yards from the trap houses.

Toth, who graduated from Baldwin with a grade-point average in the 3.5 range, shoots and practices at the Library Sportmen's Association located in Finleyville near Trax Farm. This fall, she will attend Slippery Rock University and double major in Homeland Security and criminal justice, with a minor in Middle Eastern languages. Classes start Aug. 28.

The 18-year-old Toth also has secured a berth on the Slippery Rock cheerleading squad, and, yes, she plans to continue her trap shooting activities while in college.

“In the fall of my senior year, I went to talk to the professor in charge of the trap shooting team [at Slippery Rock], and I also fundraised for them,” Toth said. “He invited me to join the team when I go to Slippery Rock in the fall. Unfortunately, the professor in charge is retiring, and they need someone to take his place. If no one can fill his position, the school won't have a team. But the team members will be able to continue shooting at a local gun club.

“The cheer tryouts were last month, and I made the all-girl team [at SRU], which is very hard to do in your freshman year.”

Baldwin's competitive cheer team placed 12th at nationals, third at states, and first in the large varsity division at the WPIAL finals. The Baldwin girls also were grand champions at a competition at Bethel Park.

“All are huge accomplishments,” said Toth, who served as team captain. “My cheer team coaches have helped shape me into the athlete and cheerleader I am today. Without the constant support from my teammates and coaches (Taryn Madden and Dena Mihalsky), I would not be as good of a cheerleader as I am.

“My favorite memories from cheer are making all of the friends I have today, and helping my fellow captains lead the competition squad. Another memory that was a favorite was winning states in the silver division for gymnastics.

“One of our team highlights was really coming together as a team and working extra hard in order to receive the state title. We all tried our hardest to get new and more difficult tricks in order to increase our scores. That also goes along with my individual highlights. I became a better gymnast this year, and was able to be one of the top scorers on my team because I [developed] new tricks on every event.”

Toth was a four-year letter winning in gymnastics and cheerleading. She capped her athletic career at Baldwin this spring as a member of the girls' track and field program.

“I did shot put my junior and senior years,” Toth said. “I did pole vault my sophomore and junior years, but due to some shoulder problems, I did not do pole vault my senior year.

“My [2017] outdoor track season went very well. I loved being part of such a close team.”

Ray Fisher is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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