hen the DJs start playing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” we hear “School’s out for summer!” For Stacy Bringelson that not only means school is in recess, it’s also trapshooting time. This 4th–grade teacher at Briggsdale School in rural Colorado trades in her ruler and chalkboard for a scoreboard and targets when school is out.
Most career choices are not based on whether or not you can go shotgun shooting, but Stacy’s was. Trapshooting played a primary part in her decision to become an educator. There are very few occupations that allow a top competitor to depart work during the trap tournament season. Teaching’s schedule, Stacy realized because her mom, brother and sister–in–law are teachers, would give her the flexibility to fly away from her job each summer. With school in recess, Stacy and her brother, Denis, head to the trap fields. Like his sister, Denis was named to the ATA All–American Teams many times and is one of the top shooters in the U.S.
Stacy’s school teaches the three Rs to boys and girls from pre–school through grade 12. All 150 children graduate from the same school they started in. To most suburbanites, that is unimaginable! Heck, when I grew up in North Royalton, a suburb of Cleveland, we needed three schools just to house grades 1–6 and a few more to keep the junior–high and high–school kids rounded up. Stacy’s 4th graders numbered only 11 this year, and she told me they are super–great kids. She’s been teaching for seven years — as a sub for three years and full–time for four years.
The summer school break of 2010 was an especially good one for Stacy. One of her most memorable weekends came at the Colorado State Shoot, where she and her cousin, Kevin Davis, shot down the competition in a shoot off and were announced Co–Doubles Champions. Also at the Colorado State Shoot, Stacy was Handicap Ladies winner, as well as Ladies HOA and HAA.
There were many major wins under the hot sunny skies, but this year’s Grand American was Stacy’s crowning glory. She won or placed in 22 events/categories and shot 400x400 Singles targets. Her consistency earned her the Ladies High–All–Around (HAA) and Ladies High–Over–All (HOA) Runner–up. “It was grand to peak at the Grand!” said Stacy.
A Perazzi MX8 is Stacy’s grand Grand gun. Basically, she spirited it away from her brother in 1995 when, at age 14, she became serious about entering the competition scene. Denis wasn’t particularly upset with that arrangement, as their dad, Dennis Bringelson, got his son a brand–new smoothbore. To Stacy’s MX8 stock, Mo Bragg added his Soft–Touch Recoil System and adjusted it for a semi–custom fit. The barrels are 32" over & under with 34" single, fine–tuned by Tom Wilkinson. These are Stacy’s second set of barrels, purchased three years ago after she had problems with the first set. Stacy said it has taken three years to feel completely confident and comfortable with the new barrels, but being at ease with her gun has helped her scores soar.
In addition to confidence in her equipment, exercise contributed to Stacy’s fantastic performance. Keeping fit helped battle the humid weather elements that often cause score–killing fatigue. Coming from the more–arid weather of Colorado, Stacy said humidity can negatively affect her. Being a person who likes to stay in shape, Stacy decided to put her exercise regimen in overdrive to train for the 2010 Rock ’n Roll Chicago Half–Marathon. On August 1, just days prior to her appearance at the Grand, Stacy crossed the marathon’s finish line at an impressive 2 hours, 30 minutes, 19 seconds, completing the grueling 13.1–mile race with 18,932 other runners.
Stacy’s dad is convinced the Chicago marathon helped his daughter shoot well this past summer. Stacy said, “It didn’t hurt,” but she believes practice and competitive drive are what make her a good shooter. “I am a huge believer that, in order to be good, you have to practice,” she said. Practice doesn’t happen much during the cold months in Colorado. Being a self–described “fair–weather shooter, only happy in tank tops and flip–flops,” Stacy doesn’t like to shoot when it is blustery cold. So, she puts away the Perazzi for most of the winter then brings it out just before the tournament season begins. She and the MX8 punch out a lot of practice targets three or four nights a week at her dad’s ranch or the local club. In the competitive months, she shoots tournaments regularly. so she does not practice unless there is a need to work on a specific area, such as Handicap.
When practice alone can’t bring her back on track, Stacy relies on her brother to lend an eye and stand over her shoulder imparting his experience and giving her sound ideas to mull over. This strong family connection is and always has been Stacy’s guidance and support. She depends on her dad, brother and cousin, who are always there to teach, guide and shoot trap with her. Before her mom, Nancy Bringelson, developed Alzheimer’s, she also traveled to shoots with the rest of the family, keeping score and cheering them on. For the Bringelsons, trapshooting is not just about targets; it’s about family, too.
Great advice from Denis and Kevin has contributed to Stacy’s scores, but her best advice came from her dad, who said, “Enjoy that you get to go shoot. Enjoy that you actually get the opportunity to go. Even if you’re not shooting well, try to enjoy it.” That advice gave me pause as I thought about how Dennis’ life changed with the onset of his wife’s illness. It certainly made me thankful for my easy life, and I’ve vowed to use his counsel to enjoy even more my own opportunities.
Have you ever considered listening to music when you shoot? This Ladies Grand HAA champ does, and you may want to give it a try. Stacy wears earplugs that have iPod® ear buds molded into them. The purpose of the music is to drown out unwanted and distracting noises. When you are shooting Handicap from the 27–yard line, people are relatively close behind the line, and their talking, laughing and general racket can often divert attention from focus on the bird and what needs to be accomplished. Good Charlotte is one of Bringelson’s favorite music groups, but she likes many kinds of music, depending on her mood. Usually her iPod® is set to random play; that is, unless a particular tune was playing when she shot a 25–straight. Her rule is: In the case of a straight, play it again!
Here is just a sample:
- 1st woman to complete the Grand Slam three times
- 1st woman to break three 100–straights in Handicap from the 27–yard line
- All–American Women’s First Team 2004–2009
- Colorado Ladies State Team Captain 2004–2010
Grand American Trophies:
2006 Harlan Campbell Jr. Singles Lady Winner
2007 President Ray Greb Handicap Lady Champion
2008 Deborah Ann Ohye-Nielson Doubles Lady Champion
2008 Blaser Handicap Lady Champion
2009 Doubles Championship Lady Champion
2010 Handicap & HAA Lady Champion
Colorado State Shoot Trophies:
2003 and 2004 HAA Lady Champion
2004 Handicap & Singles Lady Champion
2005 Handicap, Singles, HOA & HAA Lady Champion
2006 HAA Lady Champion
2007 Singles, HOA & HAA Lady Champion
2008 Handicap, HOA & HAA Lady Champion
2009 Handicap, HAA & HOA Lady Champion
2010 Doubles, Handicap HOA & HAA Lady Champion
Music isn’t Stacy’s only good–luck charm. She has lucky shirts and hats, too. Her current “lucky rabbit’s foot” is an Adidas blue–and–white visor she wore successfully at the Grand and which she says she will wear until it is “gross and disgusting.” Hey, luck and blessings come in many forms!
While luck can give you a boost, it is the fundamentals that will carry you through the rough spots. Most important for Stacy is the fundamental of holding the gun motionless until the target is ejected from the traphouse. She says that is huge for her! Keeping her head down is another truly significant basic she adheres to. (Adhere — glue that head to the stock — good reminder!)
A reminder for Stacy that, sadly, the trapshooting competition season is coming to an end is all those advertisements on television selling school supplies. Didn’t you hate those ads when you were a kid? Somehow we thought, if it weren’t for those commercials, our parents wouldn’t know it was time for us to go back to school. But no, the ad folks have to let our parents know school is starting and end our fun vacation.
I don’t know if Stacy’s 4th graders were assigned to write what they did on their summer vacation, but I’m sure they would have been impressed to know what their teacher had accomplished. Stacy pulled a 30–foot camper trailer given to her by her loving cousin when he got a new one and traveled America competing. At her side was “Tink” (short for Tinkerbell), her Jack Russell Terrier, riding shotgun in Stacy’s new Dodge truck. She scored big all summer long and won over 30 trophies at very major trapshooting championships. Not only did she run the Rock ’n Roll Chicago Half–Marathon, she finished with a great time. She definitely had a summer to remember!
Now that it’s cold February, I’m sure Stacy is daydreaming in class about her Perazzi, tank top and flip–flops and the trapshooting Golden Rule: Do unto the target before it un–does you!
Connie Mako Miller’s shooting career began in 1969 with trapshooting lessons at the Winchester Club in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1988, she attained ATA Lady High Handicap Average in Ohio, 8th in the U.S. She was chosen for the NSCA All–American Team two times, four times Michigan State Lady Champ, five times Ohio State Lady Champ and Runner–Up in the NSCA National Champion of Champions in 1993. She began writing for Shotgun Sports in March, 1997.