Trapshooting champion keeps sights on Olympics
By Lou Fancher
Blake Fahmie used an Italian-made Axis RS 12 trap shotgun to get through college and earn a MBA from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Now, the award-decorated trap and skeet shooter is aiming at the 2020 Olympics.
It's not as incongruous as it reads, because the 25-year-old is an athlete -- and his shooting is a sport. Entering the competitive field while a student at Acalanes High School 10 years ago, Fahmie immediately dominated local and state championships. Recruited by Lindenwood, a school whose dynastic Lindenwood Shotgun Sports team has won 11 team championships and is coached by an Olympian, Fahmie racked up Amateur Trapshooting Association awards and other competition honors nearly as fast as the 100 shells that fly out of his gun's interchangeable barrels during a competition round.
A member of three National Collegiate Championship teams, he served as the teams' assistant coach while completing his graduate degree.
Viewed on YouTube, Fahmie's sharpshooting coordination splinters five clay targets into dust, just seconds after he's dispersed them into the clear blue sky at the Martinez Gun Club.
Showing off, he shoots from behind his back, or lying down, or even with his gun held upside down overhead. Bottles of steak sauce, used as targets, explode: a sign of the fun Fahmie's been having since he was a boy, duck hunting with his dad and older brother, Zack.
Greg Fahmie has managed the Martinez club since 2005, but long before then, he taught his two sons the joys and responsibilities of shooting for sport. He calls his son a natural whose "99 out of 100" and often, 100 percent scores, add credence to the claim.
Fahmie says playing football and baseball and years of waterfowl hunting -- all activities in which the "target" has an unpredictable flight path -- developed his speed and ability to lead by shooting ahead on the target's trajectory.
"I shoot the first target quickly, then the second one isn't falling far away by the time I shoot it. It's right there for me," he says.
Trap shooting is a lot like golf, Fahmie explains. Not only is it important to keep your head down and the gun aligned as if it's a part of the body, the hardest part of shooting may be between the ears.
"It's easy to let your mind slip and think about how many you've missed," Fahmie says.
Competitions vary, but typical events have competitors standing in five different positions, shooting five shots from each post. Four fields make up a session and at each competition there are three events: singles, shot at a distance of 16 yards; handicap, shot at the shooter's established yardage from 18-27 yards; and doubles, where two targets disperse into the air at 16 yards.
Fahmie excels at doubles and says since competitions are 300 "clays" (the clay targets) a day, his practices are similar.
"It takes about four hours. If I'm struggling with an angle, I'll shoot that 25 times in a row, instead of keeping it random. I work on endurance. I just shoot a lot," he says.
Fahmie's more apt to boast about the turnaround at the Martinez Gun Club by his father than his own records. The club now has 600 members, 10 trap fields, two skeet fields and an Olympic-sized international trap that features targets coming from 15 different directions and traveling at 75-80 miles per hour.
Teaching is Fahmie's most recent passion. He says he's the first person in California to get a master's degree through shooting and sees it as a positive thing.
"Seen through the news, shooting is negative and involved with killing. But I'm paving the way for participants to get scholarships."
Concord's De La Salle High School has a trap team with more than 60 athletes, some of whom are his students.
"I share techniques for shooting, but also give them and their parents info for moving from high school to college to the Olympics," he says.
If he's generous with instructions about gun safety and rigorously explaining proper technique even to beginners, Fahmie admits he's reserved when it comes to casual talk about the 30 guns he owns.
"There's a certain line, where I watch what I say. Getting a haircut, I don't say 'gun.' Once you say that, they don't hear trap or Olympic sport. I don't use it for self-defense or in my home. These are finely crafted tools."
He plans to continue teaching and competing. With the world championship in Sparta, Ill., coming up in August, Fahmie says he's keeping the 2020 Olympics in his sights.