Quitman senior wins spot on USA shooting team

QUITMAN — Quitman High school senior Roe Reynolds would never brag about how talented he must be to make the USA Shooting World Championship shotgun team, but his coach has no qualms about it.

“He has unbelievable eye-hand coordination; it’s some of the best of any athlete I’ve ever seen,” said Tommy Browning of Wooster. “He’s a very talented shooter.”

Reynolds, 17, will represent Team USA in international trapshooting from Sept. 1-10 in Moscow, Russia.

Browning, a national sporting-clay champion, said he and his daughter, Kayle Browning Thomas, have coached Reynolds since he was about 11. Thomas is an award-winning trapshooter, including multiple national championships and medals in the World Cup and Pan American Games.

“He reminds me of her as a young shooter,” Browning said.

Reynolds, a son of Summer and Lance Reynolds, said he grew up shooting.

“From the time I could hold a gun, I had one in my hand, pretty much,” Roe Reynolds said. “Mom taught me how to hunt, and my grandpas and grandmas. It’s kind of funny; my dad hunts very little. Me and mom have spent countless hours in the deer stand.”

Reynolds said he first started competing through the Amateur Trapshooting Association and in sporting-clay events. When he was 14, he earned a spot on the Junior National Team, and he was the youngest member, he said.

He started international trapshooting in 2013.

Reynolds said he and his father were shooting clay targets with a hand-held shooter in the backyard, and his dad suggested they go to the Brownings’ international-level trap range in Wooster.

“I fell in love with it,” Roe Reynolds said of trapshooting.

In international trapshooting, or bunker shooting, competitors shoot from five stations. Each station has three throwing machines, and the clay targets come out left, right or straight.

“These targets are flying from 60 mph to 90 mph. You’ve got to be more on your toes,” he said.

Reynolds uses his trusty Krieghoff 12-gauge.

To qualify for the international team, Reynolds went to three qualifying events this year — Kerrville, Texas; Fort Benning, Georgia; and the final one in July in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It was a nail-biter. Reynolds came from behind to place third and secure a spot on the open team.

“I went into the final in the fifth position. We had three matches with combined scores, and just because you win one doesn’t mean you’re going,” Reynolds said. “In order to even have an opportunity to go overseas, I had to come in first from being in fifth, which I did.

“From that point, I had to go into a shootout with another boy from Florida. We shot two 25-target rounds and tied. I ended up having to shoot another one against him and ended up winning by one target.”

Browning saw it all unfold.

“It was probably one of the most exciting shoot-offs I’ve ever watched,” Browning said. “It was about a two-hour shoot-off with over 120 targets. Not one thing could have turned out different in two hours and him still make the team. It was very stressful.”

At one point, Reynolds thought it was over, Browning said.

“I said, ‘Nope, you’ve got to beat the other guy,’ and they tied, and he beat him by one.”

Summer Reynolds said it was nerve-wracking, and she compared the atmosphere to golf, where the audience has to stay quiet during the competition.

“We were really wanting him to get on the junior team, but when he made the open team, we were really excited. He’s 17, and the other shooters are older,” she said. “I’m pretty proud of him; of course, you’re always proud of your kid.”

Roe said he wants trapshooting to help him launch his career.

“I look at it as a job, not a hobby,” he said. “I just kind of look at it for me to get into the outdoor industry, whether it’s being on TV hunting, or whatever. I could get into the outdoor industry, but it opens a bunch more doors for me.”

The teenager flew to Russia a few weeks ago to train for the upcoming event.

“We trained at the actual range where we’ll have the world championship. It’s by far one of the nicest ranges I’ve been to or seen. It’s three times as nice as anything here,” Roe said. “They have a bowling alley at the range, if that tells you anything — and a restaurant there.

“It was definitely an experience. You drop yourself off with eight people and one translator, and nobody speaks English. Google translate is your best friend.”

It’s not the first time Roe’s been out of the country for shooting events.

During spring break, he shot at a World Cup event in Acapulco, Mexico, and he and his parents went to Italy for him to shoot in a match.

“Italy was by far my favorite,” he said. “I got food poisoning in Mexico really, really bad to the point I slept 19 hours, and I actually did throw up on the line two different times.”

It was not his best showing, but he shrugged it off.

“What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger,” he said.

Reynolds already has nerves of steel at 17, but Browning said there is a lot of pressure being on Team USA.

“You’ve got the country’s expectations on your shoulders,” he said.

Plus, Browning said that although the United States has athletes compete to see who goes to the event, some countries hand-pick their athletes, including former Olympians.

“He’ll be competing with the best of the best in the world,” Browning said. He estimated that Reynolds will compete with about 180 other shooters.

Although he hasn’t confirmed it, Browning said he’s never heard of anyone as young as 17 being on the World Championship team.

“My goal for him is to just go compete as he practices, kind of pressure-free,” Browning said.

Reynolds is putting some pressure on himself.

“I’m looking to win when I go to World Championships, which can be done,” he said. He has to make the top six; then those six compete for gold, silver or bronze.

Browning said he would not be shocked if Reynolds comes home with a medal.

“I would not be shocked at all; he’s very talented. The rest of the world will be shocked,” Browning said, laughing.

And Browning will be the first to brag on him.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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