Morrill wins inaugural USFE shotgun title
Stars and Stripes August 13, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Ben Morrill of Stuttgart had to borrow a shotgun and master a new event Saturday to win the inaugural U.S. Forces Europe Shotgun Championship.
“My face is hurting,” Morrill said of using an unfamiliar weapon. “I wasn’t used to the recoil.”
Morrill also wasn’t used to one of the three disciplines in the championship. Along with the familiar trap and skeet, the championship incorporated a 50-target parcours event.
“I’ve never event heard of it,” Morrill said of the parcours, essentially a specialized trap shoot in which the targets simulate various types of bird flight — including a near-vertical takeoff that seems to hang at its apogee — and rabbits bounding along the ground.
Morrill, an Oregonian who said he’s been around guns and hunting all his life, managed to shatter 21 of his first 50 parcours targets, good enough for third place in the discipline. Overall runner-up William Higgins of Schweinfurt won the event by nailing 24 of 50; overall third-place finisher Roger Williams broke 23.
Higgins won the skeet portion of the event with a score of 86 (out of 100). Williams again was second with 82, one better than Morrill.
Morrill wrapped up the overall title by posting a huge margin in trap. He bagged 37 of 50 to 24 for Higgins to total 197 points. Trap and parcours scores were multiplied by two to give those disciplines an even footing with the 100-target skeet event.
“I just started shooting skeet when I found out I was coming to Europe,” said Higgins, whose overall total was 180. “In the States I mostly shot pistols, but that’s hard to do over here.”
Unlike Morrill, Higgins previously had fired parcours.
“In the States, we call it ‘five-stand’ or ‘sporting clays,’ ” he said. “I shot a lot of five-stand in 2003.”
Williams and Dennis Meyer tied for third in the 13-man field, each scoring 158. The tie was broken during an extra session of trap shoot, won by Williams on the second target.
Morrill said it had been a while since he’d had a chance to use a shotgun.
“In Special Ops, we get to fire M-4s a lot and our M-9s and the M-240 occasionally, but we don’t have a real gun club in Stuttgart,” he said. “The Germans won’t let us shoot on weekends. My shotgun is locked up in our armory, and the armorer and I have to drive across town to reach it.”
Despite his swollen cheek, Morrill relished the opportunity to get re-acquainted with shotguns.
“Any chance I get to go shooting,” he said, “I’ll take.”