SAFFORD — The Gila Valley has a talented group of clay shooters, to the point where Annie Oakleys can last quite a few rounds. To ramp up the challenge, Friday night’s competition round required the use of short-barrel shotguns.

“They kick like a mule,” runner-up Wes Smith said.

Apparently, the trick with said gun is to shoot well ahead of the clay.

Mike Stacey took the win after having to take the competition to the corners of the arena, with both him and Smith nearly running out of shells.

On top of the competition round, the night was full of bizarre surprises, from a bad box of shells that took one gun out of commission with a pair of anticlimactic pops to another gun’s not firing due to a trigger issue.

The night also had its share of laughs, smiles and good times. Two brand-new shooters successfully broke some clays and expressed interest in coming back for more.

Liz Strickland said, “Everybody’s welcoming and helpful. I find it very cathartic. You take your mind off everything, and your mind is one place because you can’t think of anything else. And you’re doing it time after time, and I feel so relaxed afterwards. It’s also nice to learn something new and experience how welcoming everyone is.”

The next trap shoot will be Aug. 16 starting at 6 p.m.

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