Former Oregon mayor and Oregon Municipal Court judge Don Petroff owns several guns, so technically he could be compared to the legendary Judge Roy Bean of the Old West.
“Only without the hanging tree,” Petroff joked.
Petroff, 70, has found his niche outside of politics in the sport of trapshooting. On June 21, he captured the state singles title (for any age group) at the State Singles Championships sponsored by the Ohio Trapshooting Association. The annual event was held at the Cardinal Center in Marengo, Ohio.
“It's the finest state shooting facility in the country," Petroff said.
The national event attracted trapshooters from all over the country.
“There were 1,280 competitors, including a couple of (trapshooting) All-Americans, people who compete nationally, and All-Ohioans,” Petroff said. “If you win certain events, you get points. The Ohio shoot is traditionally one of the biggest state shoots in the country, along with Pennsylvania. Next to the Nationals, those are the two biggest shoots."
Petroff said he has been competing since 1991.
"I started through some friends,” he said. “I've shot handguns, clays, rifles, then your friends say, `Come out and shoot trap,’ and you get hooked.
“We shoot locally for practice in Monroe or Stoney Ridge or Camp Perry. Then we shoot at events in Michigan. This year I shot in Arizona and Florida.
“You're rated by your shooting ability and you pre-register. You shoot against a field and your rating."
Competitors shoot at a flying clay disc, beginning with 25 targets at one trap location followed by 25 at another location, up to 100.
“After 100, you start all over and shoot the next 100,” Petroff said. “It takes all day.” In singles trapshooting competitors shoot from the 16-yard line at clay discs that are about 35-45 yards away. In the doubles event, competitors shoot at two targets from the same yardage. In the handicap event, shooters start from the 19- or 20-yard lines.
“As you win events,” Petroff said, “you move back to the 27-yard line. I'm at the 27-yard line."
Petroff¹s weapon of choice for competition is a 12-gauge Italian-made Perazzi shotgun.
"It's a very good shotgun,” he said, ³probably the No. 1 gun used in trap. Beretta makes good trap guns, and Browning. There are specially made ones for trap shooting."
Petroff said he became the oldest man in Ohio history to win the overall singles event at the State Singles Championships. He competes in the senior veterans class (70 and above).
"I shot for the overall championship,” Petroff said. “It's more prestigious. I was there and I was doing well and I thought, why not go for the whole thing.
“There were 11 people who hit 200 targets straight, like I did. We had shoot-offs and I shot 100 straight in the shoot-off. When there were two of us left, that guy missed one and I ran it off.” Petroff said it was a huge thrill to win the overall singles title.
"Anytime you shoot against the best shooters around, it's exciting,” he said. “When you're in a zone, it takes a little bit of luck and little bit of staying fresh - making sure the gun and the eyes do what they're supposed to do."
By winning the championship Petroff qualified for the Nationals on Aug. 8-20 in Sparta, Ill. Petroff, however, said he might just sit this one out.
"I don't even know if I'm going because it¹s so hot and humid down there,” he said. “It's not fun. They are having a big shoot in Ohio at the Cardinal Center right after that and I'm definitely going to that.”