April 13, 2007

On target for success

Killawog teen has Olympic trap shooting dreams


Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Kirsten Hammond, of Killawog, sights down the barrel of her Browning over-under shotgun. Kirsten hopes to try out for the Junior Olympic team and her family is holding fundraisers to support her efforts.

Staff Reporter

KILLAWOG — At age 12, Kirsten Hammond took the hard, heavy barrel of a shotgun in her hands to prove a point — girls can shoot.
“I started regular trap because the boys at school said girls can’t shoot,” Kirsten said. “I wanted to prove them wrong.”
Now, 16, Kirsten aspires to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics in trap shooting, and her family is holding fundraisers and taking her hours to train for the opportunity.
Trap shooting is a sport involving shotguns. A squad’s five participants stand at five separate stations or posts 16 yards away from the trap house where clay targets are released at unexpected angles in front of the shooter. Each round has 25 targets.
For her efforts, Kirsten has won eight trophies, which include two individual first place finishes and two team first place finishes.
Les Greevy, Kirsten’s coach for the past year, believes in her drive and ability.
“She is a good young shooter,” Greevy said. “She is starting at the right time and she is going to move up the ladder.”
Greevy said Hammond would enter into three competitions this year, including nationals and the Junior Olympics, where, if she does well, she could be selected for the Junior Olympic National Team. Greevy said some of the perks of making the team would be financial support, by way of ammunition, travel expenses and a red, white and blue shooting vest.
Greevy said there was no limit to what Kirsten could achieve.
Her introduction to trap shooting came when she and her father, Kurt Hammond, attended an open shoot at Wingmasters Sportsman’s Club in Hunts Corners.
“My first shot was … really bad because I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Kirsten recalled. “I had never held a gun. It was exhilarating. After the first shot, I hit every one after that.
“They had people to help to see if you really could do it and they said I should come back, and I did.”
Her mother, Callise Hammond, said she sent her husband to accompany their daughter to the shooting range in an attempt to discourage her, but they both came back wanting to pursue it further.
“I purposely sent my husband because my husband’s cousin was killed (at age 12, he was shot in the back of the head) … so my husband was very scared of guns. I sent him thinking they would go and come home and get it out of their system,” Callise said. “No! They were bitten by the bug.”
Callise said her only fear when Kirsten showed interest in the sport was that she would not be “recognized.”
Last year, Callise said her fears came true when the Amateur Trap Shooting Association had all New York state shooters on their Web site and their averages.
“They had all the guys she shot with, all the men she shot, with everybody, all their names were on there and not one woman was listed,” Callise Hammond said.
Three years after the initial interest, Kirsten decided to up the ante and raise the level of difficulty.
“Last year I started shooting Olympic bunker (trap) because I wanted more of a challenge,” she said.
In Olympic bunker, shooters stand 48.5 feet away from the wide, low trap house with 15 traps instead of the single one in regular trap. The 15 traps propel the clay pigeons through the air faster and farther, with greater angles and with greater variety of elevation than regular trap shooting. Contestants also have to move through five stations in Olympic bunker trap shooting, but fire two shots at each clay pigeon as opposed to a single shot in conventional trap shooting.
Hammond said in Olympic bunker, the clay pigeons fly off at a speed of 60 to 70 mph, faster than regular trap, and she only has about two to three seconds to hit the target.
Although Hammond was looking for a challenge when she switched to Olympic bunker, on her first try she scored a 19 out of 25.
The nearest trap range with an Olympic-style bunker is at North Mountain Sportsmen’s Club in Pennsylvania.
Over the years, the Hammonds have spent a small fortune on expenses for the sport.
“An average shooting practice for her runs $60 in shells and $15 to $20 in bird fees and of course $60 in gas just to take her to practice,” said Callise. She also said that a contest could cost up to $600, which would include an entry fee, shells and clay bird fees, room and board.
Callise said that although the sport is expensive, the family is willing to support Kirsten.
“It’s a goal she has set,” Callise said. “She works and earns most of her money to pay for it. She saved up for her first gun (a Remington Model 1100 semiautomatic). These trips that we have planned, I sit down and tell her, tickets are this amount of money. I always pay my share, but she has to earn her share.”
To help with expenses, the Hammonds have hosted three fundraisers. In 2006, a chicken and biscuit dinner raised $400. This year the family has hosted two ham dinners, one of which was snowed out. Hammond said the ham dinners took in approximately $100 between them because of cold temperatures. Callise said Wingmasters is going to help them buy chickens for a chicken barbecue dinner. No date is set for the event.
Next Friday, the Hammonds plan to host a chicken and biscuit fundraiser
Callise Hammond said she does all the cooking for the dinners.
Callise said she is proud of her daughter. She said that while shooting takes a lot of focus and time, Kirsten is still a good student and she is also involved with other extracurricular activities at Marathon High School such as marching band and jazz band.
Kirsten said she has found her niche in Olympic bunker.
“I don’t ever want to master it,” she said. “It gets boring when everyone around you is hitting 25 out of 25.”
In 10 years, Kirsten sees herself with a couple of gold medals from the Olympic games and possible her own bunker trap where she could give lessons.
Donations that would help fund Hammond’s dream could be sent to the Dare to Dream Fund c/o Kirsten Hammond, 441 Killawog Hill Road, Marathon, NY 13803.



In Dryden —

Residents voice concerns about proposed facility

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Some local residents asked the town Thursday to turn down a special permit that Advanced Design and Consulting Inc., an engineering and scientific consulting firm, needs to build a research, design and manufacturing facility.
“I think the town needs to not approve this project,” Vladimir Dragan, a would-be neighbor to the proposed project, told the Town Board. “I think it is a big mistake in the town’s future.”
The project would include two buildings totaling 93,000 square feet on 48 acres of land at 111 Cortland Road (Route 13) across the road from the entrance to Tompkins Cortland Community College, according to Alex Deyhim, president of Advanced Design.
Deyhim said the new buildings would triple the company’s current space and bring 80 to 90 jobs to Dryden. The firm now is located in a 15,000-square-foot building in Lansing. He said TC3 supports the expansion of the company.
TC3 spokesman Bruce Ryan said the college has no objections to the company moving across the road. He said the college hopes to provide training for Advanced Design and find job opportunities for TC3 students.
The proposed project is just north of the village on Route 13 and would be near, if not next door to, Dragan’s Book Barn of the Finger Lakes.
Dragan said a better site for the project would be in the corridor west of the village on Route 13.
“It is a far less developed area, as a green corridor, as opposed to the Route 13 stretch from west of the village into Ithaca,” Dragan said. “Personally I feel that the property across the street next to TC3 could have a more related use to TC3. TC3 is going to expand I don’t think the students need to see a manufacturing facility across the street from the college.
Former Tompkins County Legislator Michael Lane said he thought Dragan’s concerns were valid.
“I think we’ve got to be very, very, careful of the long-range planning here and what this community is going to be looking like in the next few years,” said Lane, who was village of Dryden mayor for 10 years before winning a seat on the Tompkins County Board of Representatives, which became the county Legislature in 2003. Lane served for 12 years before losing a re-election bid in 2005.
“We all want to see economic development happen, we want to see it done right. Route 13 from TC3 north is in real danger of turning into Route 13 from Dryden south, which is overburdened with driveways, for example. We need to think about something the town of Dryden has talked about for years and years, and that is access roads that parallel or otherwise eliminate the need for driveways.”
He said the board should take time to look at the proposed site to see what the town would like to develop so the developments are not incompatible with the character of the neighborhood.
Dragan said the project was not appropriate to the neighborhood or the region.

Virgil wants grants restored

Staff Reporter

VIRGIL — The town could lose thousands of dollars a year as a result of federal funding for sewer and water system training and assistance being cut, the chief operator of the sewer and water districts told the board at its meeting Thursday night.
Scott King, the chief operator, told the board the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently cut funding to the National Rural Water Association for the 2007 fiscal year, which channels money to the state Rural Water Association that pays for free training and technical assistance to municipalities.
In response to King’s request, the town unanimously voted Thursday to ask Rep. Michael Arcuri to seek the restoration of federal funding to the National Rural Water Association in 2008.
King said he can’t say exactly how much the nonprofit saves the town of Virgil, but that it pays for about $800 of the approximately $1,000 in yearly training costs he incurs to keep his license. The town pays the rest, he said.
He said the nonprofit also pays for a circuit rider — or traveling educator — to visit the sewer and water districts once a week to make sure nothing is wrong and attend to any problems.
Without that person, who happens to live in Dryden and stops in Virgil once a week, the town would have to hire a contractor to give it technical help.
“If I had to have a person here for part of one day, that’s several hundred dollars every visit,” he said.
To replace the $11 million in funding for such services, the Environmental Protection Agency is now offering $7.7 million in competitive grants to individual municipalities for sewer and water infrastructure costs, said Mike Keegan, environmental analyst for the National Rural Water Association.
The Environmental Protection Agency could not be reached this morning to say why the funding for small municipalities was reduced by almost $4 million or why it will be used for infrastructure costs for certain municipalities as opposed to training and on-site technical assistance for all municipalities.
Two reports by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General in 2006 concluded the National Rural Water Association distributed grants equally to all states, not based on state needs.
The reports recommended that the grants be distributed through a competitive process that is based on need.