BETHALTO, Ill. (AP) – It’s not easy to attain worldwide status at any sport, but it appears two Bethalto boys have reached that threshold in trapshooting.
Gage Thornton, 9, recently set what could be a world record for his age, breaking 100 straight targets at the Grand American competition at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta.
Hunter Thornton, 11, was the No. 2 shooter in the 15 and under division for the Amateur Trapshooting Association event and Gage was No. 5.
“Hunter was the youngest kid ever to break 200 straight,” the boys’ dad, T.J. Thornton, said. “TrapShooting magazine had Gage next to an Olympic shooter saying he was the youngest shooter in the nation to break 100 straight and brother Hunter the first to break 200 straight.”
The Thorntons appropriately named their children Gage and Hunter as a tribute to shooting sports. Those names seem more fitting as each day passes.
“Gage started shooting when he was 7,” T.J. Thornton said. “Hunter has been a national champion for three years. Gage has been No. 2 two of those three years. Their team won the team national championship two years in a row. Both shoot side by side on their team.”
Trapshooting is an Olympic sport, and T.J. Thornton said if they stay with it, nothing is outside the realm of possibility for the future. Olympic trapshooting is different because it starts with a bunker trap.
The trapshooting boys practice about four days a week.
“They both love shooting,” T.J. Thornton said. “What is very odd is that Gage is a little bit more obsessed with it in a way than Hunter. Hunter is better than Gage, so he wants to practice more so he can beat Hunter. Gage will go in the back yard and practice more so he can try to beat Hunter.”
Gage is in fourth grade at Meadowbrook School; Hunter just started in sixth grade at Trimpe Middle School in Bethalto.
Hunter and Gage’s father sees both having a big future in the sport if they keep it up.
“It is not something I am going to force on them,” he said. “They could honestly go to college on it as long as they keep getting good grades and stay into it. Lindenwood is close and has one of best shooting teams in the nation. The boys have done a couple clinics there and they like both Hunter and Gage.”
T.J. pointed out that a lot can happen in the next seven to nine years when it comes time to play football, baseball and other sports, but he doesn’t think they will let the trapshooting experiences that are already in their blood go to waste.
“It’s just unbelievable watching them,” T.J. Thornton said. “I am more nervous than they are when I watching them. They are so young and that don’t realize exactly how great they are doing. They love shooting and that is what is most important.”
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