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July 14, 2008

 

Pendell savoring shooting ‘Fame’

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Even after arriving home from his special day, this momentous occasion still brought out the emotions in Joe Pendell.
Earlier on Sunday the 46-year-old lifetime resident of Lisle was inducted into the New York State Trapshooters Hall of Fame. Those ceremonies were held on the final day of the annual Amateur Trapshooters Association State Tournament that got underway this past Tuesday at the Bridgeport Rod & Gun Club north of Syracuse.
“It was awesome. It was everything I wanted it to be,” said Pendell last night of the awards ceremony. He received a plaque and had his picture go up on the wall at the state home grounds along other Hall of Fame recipients.
He was among a 2008 Trapshooters Hall of Fame class of four, inducted along with current New York State ATA president Keith Welch, Nancy Benoit and the late Jim Janis.
Pendell is a past state champ shooter, having won the singles title in 2001 when he was a perfect 200-for-200 in regulation before hitting 100 additional targets without a miss to capture a playoff.
The following year, he finished third after another perfect score — losing out in a playoff on that occasion. He was also the all-around champion in 1994 and has competed in the state championships for 22 years.
For the past seven years, Pendell has also been coaching a team of young shooters at the Wingmasters Club at Hunts Corner. One of his early teams won a second place silver medal at the ATA National Championships held on Ohio. This season at state championships, Pendell’s varsity shooters placed third and the junior varsity squad brought the first place team trophy home.
As for Pendell, he had a couple of rounds of 198 during the competition this past week, along with a 197 and 196. “I shot well but not well enough to win. You pretty much have to be perfect at the states,” he said.
Of course, considering Pendell had to cut short his shooting career when he had surgery to remove a cyst from his brain in 2003, it is pretty remarkable he is still competing in the sport at all. Though he was back shooting two weeks after that surgery, he suffered paralysis to the right side of his body. He had to learn how to walk and talk all over again, and even had to be fed by devoted wife Diane in the early days of recovery.
“I didn’t do too well to start but I eventually got my reflexes back. I couldn’t live without it,” said Pendell of recovering from that bit of adversity.
Besides coaching, Pendell also served on the New York State ATA Board of Directors and is an alternate director this year.
As a teenager Pendell would show up at chicken shoots at Rod and Gun Clubs in places like Whitney Point, Greene and Berkshire where you could win a chicken or pepperoni or some other odd prize for breaking enough targets.
But shooting wasn’t something this 1981 graduate of Whitney Point High School took seriously until his uncle, Bob Pendell, got him to tag along. They would shoot Monday nights at the Berkshire Rod & Gun Club back in 1983, did well there and decided to compete in registered shoots to further test their talent.
“It just took off after that,” said Pendell.
Still, it took him a few years to progress from the Class C level to become a Class AAA marksman. “Persistence paid off,” he said of moving up the competitive ladder through hard work.
Pendell felt he was at his sharpest as a shooter between 1998 and 2002, when he would shoot 100 targets three times during the week and usually have a 300-target competition on the weekend.
“When I got my groove on I would shoot 500 to 600 targets a week. That’s what you had to do if you wanted to be competitive, if you wanted to win a state title,” he said.
That state title arrived in 2001. “I had worked a lot of years for that one,” he says.
Still, Pendell recalls the next year’s near miss at repeating as state champion more fondly. During that 2002 competition, he had one of his teams shooting on his right and another on the left. So in front of that crowd of shooters and family members, he suddenly realized he had knocked off 175 targets without a miss.
He completed his round with 25 more without a miss with a crowd of some 80 folks — his students and their family members — watching. That occasion, where the teacher got to show off a little for his attentive students, almost ranks up there with Sunday’s festivities.
Pendell was overjoyed to have his mother and father, his siblings and his wife of 11-years on hand to see him step to the podium and be a part of trapshooting history. With the four new inductions, the Hall of Fame now has 56 distinguished members.
“There’s no better honor than to be in the Hall of Fame,” he said last night after returning home to Lisle. “I just said (after receiving his award), ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart.’”