The Pajaro Gun Club in Fort Smith is the home shooting range of 17-year old Tanner Cooper, who, statistically, may be the best athlete to come out of the state of Arkansas. Cooper is the nation's No. 1 trap shooter for his age group and there are only a handful better than him at any age. So what is trap shooting?
"There are three categories, or divisions as you will," trap shooting champion Tanner Cooper said. "One is the 16 yard singles, the next is the handicap which range from the 19 yard line to the 27 yard line, and then there's doubles where you shoot two targets at one time."
Shooters shoot a box of 25 rounds until they reach 100. The name of the game is the most disks hit, wins. What makes Tanner so good is he hardly ever misses.
"His composite average, which is his average of singles, doubles, and handicap, he is number one in the United States," Tanner's father Jim Cooper said. "And when you look at his singles average, just singles from the 16 yard line, I think his average was like 99.59."
For Tanner, that means on average he only misses once for about every 1000 shots, but he won't tell you that.
"I miss all the time," Tanner Cooper said. "It is a game you cannot perfect."
Just like in baseball, the higher the average the better. Cooper recently became the first ever Arkansas shooter to complete the trap shootings grand slam. That means he hit every single disk from the singles, doubles and handicap of 27 yards. That's 300 shots all on target.
"It was just really overwhelming when I first did it," Cooper said. "Not only knowing that it was the grand slam, then later figuring out that I was the first one, it was really mind blowing.
Cooper has won several national titles including the 2014 AIM (The OFFICIAL youth program of the Amateur Trapshooting Association) Grand Nationals Singles Championship, and was on the AIM 2014 National Championship team representing Arkansas that won.
He and his squad also won the 2014 AYSSP (Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports) Senior Division Championship in June as a member of one of Greenwood High Schools Trap Shooting Squads. Most recently he finished first in his catagory and fourth overall at the Grand Nationals for the ATA (Amateur Trap Shooting).
These accomplishments have gained him national exposure from shooters, to sponsors and top level trap shooting colleges. Cooper says that he will continue to shoot as long as it is fun for him.