The crack of shotgun blasts isn’t the noise you typically hear at a fundraiser, but it made sense on Saturday morning at the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club.
The club was the site of a trap shoot to raise money for the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum in Tacoma, part of Gig Harbor High School student Shane O’Connor’s senior project that is required for graduation.
The event, which took place late in the morning and into afternoon, drew about 40 shooters, including many of O’Connor’s family and friends, using their shotguns to blast bright yellow clay pigeon targets out of the air.
Money was raised courtesy of a $30 entry fee, and donations were taken as well. Club President Le Rodenberg said several shooters who could not attend the event sent checks anyway.
O’Connor said he got interested in trap shooting because he’s worked at the club for more than a year now. He shoots just about every Thursday when the facility is open to him.
“I’m decent,” he said of his trap-shooting skills.
It’s also a cerebral exercise.
“For me, it’s more just the kind of mental aspect to it,” O’Connor said. “You’ve got to really focus on it ... and the fun of it.”
Perhaps less fun but requiring at least as much focus was organizing the event. O’Connor planned it from beginning to end, said Rodenberg, who served as O’Connor’s mentor on the project.
“Shane did a really good job putting this together,” he said.
The event also served as a way for O’Connor to honor his father, Shawn, who died unexpectedly in December after a blood clot traveled to his lungs following minor surgery.
“It was a sudden loss for all of us,” said O’Connor’s mother, Michelle.
The trap shooting fundraiser provided a respite of sorts, allowing Michelle to bask in her son’s senior project coming to fruition.
“I’m really proud of Shane for everything that has happened, that he could maintain his goal in his dad’s honor,” she said.
O’Connor’s dad worked on the Foss Waterway as a tugboat captain his entire working life, and father and son spent many summer hours working on the tugboat together.
The younger O’Connor wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a Puget Sound tugboat captain, hence the connection to the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, which celebrates and documents Tacoma’s rich maritime heritage.
“That’s what I wanted,” O’Connor said of his choice for his senior project, which he put 25 hours into. “You can choose anything you want to.”
“Shane and his dad enjoyed it,” O’Connor’s mom said of the two of them working together. “He’s going to continue down that path.”
After he graduates, O’Connor said he’s looking into enrolling in a two-year program at the Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle to start on the path to achieve his dream of becoming a tugboat captain.
Reporter Brett Davis can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brett.