Kelowna skeet shooter wins two world titles

Bob LaRue also stands alone as only certified Level 3 skeet shooting instructor outside U.S.

A Kelowna skeet shooter returned from the world championships last month with three prestigious honours.

Bob LaRue won both the AA and overall senior categories at the National Skeeting Shooting Association world finals held in San Antonio, Tex., which attracted more than 800 competitors from the U.S., Peru, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

At the event, he also passed his final qualification test to become the only Level 3 certified skeet shooting instructor outside of the U.S.

“I like teaching people how to shoot,” said LaRue of his instructor certification, which he has been working on for the past decade to achieve.

“I’ve been doing it all my life but I actually like instructing more than shooting. Hard to believe perhaps but it’s true.”

Reaching the world finals skeet shooting medal podium is not new for LaRue, who won a gold medal in doubles, one of the five individual shooting categories in 2016.

RELATED: LaRue on target at worlds

He was the overall senior category shooter runner-up that year, falling short of winning by just a single target missed, and finished among the top 10 overall out of 900 shooters.

LaRue comes by his sport shooting skills from his father, who bought him his first 22 long rifle at age 7 and shotgun at age 10 while growing up in Langley.

“There was a shooting club near where I lived in Langley and I started shooting competitively as a teenager and I found I was good at it right away,” he said.

LaRue went from skeet to sporting clays, which is shooting at set targets in a forested course, which he competed at for 12 years, placing in the top 10 at the U.S. finals.

As he started a family and moving to different communities before settling in Kelowna in 1979, LaRue refocused his attention on skeet shooting, beginning a bid to qualify for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

“I bailed out because of the cost of training at that time. I was looking at spending about $100,000 in cost to compete and travel to reach that level, and I decided to go back to skeet shooting for fun,” he said.

In looking back, LaRue acknowledges some regrets in hindsight about not pushing for the Olympics, but the financial commitment was just too much at that time.

RELATED: Sharpshooter LaRue continues torrid skeet shooting season

“Skeet shooting is an amateur sport so it’s expensive. My goal now is for one day to teach a future Canadian Olympian. I would love to do that, but I need to find him or her,” LaRue said.

“Now basically it’s about the best shooter who can afford to play the game, but that is not necessarily the best shooter. I would like to find that person.”

LaRue said training for him would be shooting 30,000 rounds of practice a year, at 25 targets a round. Now he at about 8,000 to 10,000 rounds but he plans to continue competing at provincial, national and international events.

LaRue operated his own business, Great West Refrigeration, for 37 years and sold it over two years ago to Gateway Mechanical, but he has continued to work for the new owners.

“My wife says I have to have an income if I want to spend $30,000 a year shooting,” he laughed.

More of his time these days is directed towards developing the Okanagan Shotgun Sports Club’s outdoor sports shooting facility three kilometres up Big White Road.

The club purchased the 60-acre site with the long-term plan to create five trap shooting fields, two skeet shooting fields and one sporting clays course, licensed and approved by the RCMP.

LaRue previously did much of his training at a skeet shooting facility in Vernon. A site was created in Kelowna but was closed down to noise complaints from neighbours.

He said the club’s 40 members have dedicated more than 400 hours of labour towards the project so far with the intent to have two skeet and trapshooting fields opened by the end of this year.

“It has been quite an undertaking,” he said.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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