Wisconsin State Titles
12 Gauge (1 time) – 1998
20 Gauge (2 times) – 2000, 2014
28 Gauge (1 time) – 1999
HOA (1 time) – 2000
Back in the 90s when Phil finished college and completed getting his aviation ratings, he decided to purchase a gun and get back into clay target shooting. When he was around 19, Phil purchased a Citori and dabbled in 16-yard trap merely shooting leagues at a local club. This club also had two skeet fields, which always intrigued him. On a few occasions, he gave it a try. He enjoyed the challenge and had a good time even though his scores weren’t all that impressive.
Once he had some cash in hand again, Phil decided to buy a target gun, but this time it would be for skeet–a Browning Citori. A short time after seeing a tube set, he had one ordered. He shot at the two local clubs in Sheboygan. Although he changed guns once for longer barrels (28 to 32 inch), a Browning was the gun of choice during most of his skeet shooting years.
He recalls practicing every change he had on weekends, as he started shooting registered targets soon after his tube set was returned. Phil shot a lot, to the tun of 2 or 3 rounds per day on Saturday and Sunday, and even took a 4-hour lesson with Wayne Mayes. Then he met Mike Schmidt at shoot in Vegas, as traveling to tournaments was the thing to do. He said to him, “I want to take a lesson from you.” Mike responded, “Sure, but not until the shooting season ends; call me after the World Shoot.” Phil gave him a day or two to get home and then called. Mike had not forgotten. “Come on up,” Mike said, “and stay the weekend at my place, and it won’t cost you a dime other than your rounds you shoot” ($1 a round). Mike said they could shoot four hours each day at Wayzeta Country Club, so Phil asked how many shells he should bring. Mike’s responded, “A thousand should work, but if we run out, I have plenty!” Phil remembers they shot 1500 that weekend.
That training weekend led to a long, ongoing friendship, which included being a squad-mate with Mike and many others over the years. Practicing a 1000+ targets per weekend became the norm for Phil and many of his fellow shooters in the area such as Peppy, Petie, and Decker to name a few. Mike’s guidance and Phil’s practice with his skeet friends enabled him to reach AAA in all guns in a limited amount of time and the following championships:
1) State 12 gauge
2) Kachina HOA RU (100 straight in .410)
3) State HOA CH (398) plus two other state titles
Phil has been on several All-State First Teams, including serving as captain. He has also been on the All-Zone Team and the 2009 All-American Team.
Phil has many fond memories from the past days of shooting with everyone: painting barrels white for night shoot-offs, mounting a broom like a gun at Becky’s trailer in San Antonio to discuss hold point and starting techniques, and a flooded truck and trailer at the Blue Grass followed by a tornado that wiped out the skeet fields shortly after pulling out to head home. His favorite local club is Brown County, hands down, and his favorite shoot is the North Star as he shot well there with back-to-back HOA wins.
Because his job as a machinist slowed to the point of getting laid-off so did the skeet shooting fund, which forced him to go back to flying. As a junior pilot, Phil worked weekends, which obviously didn’t line up very well with shooting tournaments and forced him to back away from the game quickly.
Phil’s wife can attest to the fact that he spent a lot of money shooting skeet tournaments and practicing, as many others have. But if given the opportunity to spin back time to get that cash back, he said he wouldn’t, because the trade-off isn’t there. Skeet shooting was worth every cent, because of the friends he met. Now an induction into the Wisconsin State Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame is just icing on the cake.