Churchill wins trapshooting championship

By Trish Yerges, Correspondent September 23, 2011 08:12 pm

Cecil Churchill, 2012 Oregon State ATA singles champion
Cecil Churchill, 2012 Oregon State ATA singles champion

ELGIN — Trapshooter Cecil Churchill brought home the 2012 Singles Championship at the 84th annual Oregon State Shoot in Bend, making him the fourth trapshooter from Elgin to earn a championship from the Oregon State Amateur Trapshooting Association.

The trap shoot was held at the Bend Trap Club Sept. 16-18, one of the first state shoots of the 2012 target year. He broke 99 in the 100 singles target event, using hand loads to win with his Perazzi combination over/under shotgun.

Now he joins an elite group of Elgin ATA champions, including T.J. Galloway, the 1998 Oregon State handicap champion; T.J.’s father Steve Galloway, the 2002 Oregon State doubles champion; and Audrie Chandler who won the 2005 ladies  singles championship.

Cecil’s recent 2012 singles championship is the latest honor on a long list of other trapshooting accomplishments, including being a high overall shooter in 2001, an Oregon State delegate to the 2006 American Grand Championship shoot in Sparta, Ill., and an Oregon ATA Trapshooting Contributor Hall of Fame inductee in 2010.

“I’ve been shooting since 1987 — often in La Grande, Union and Wallowa,” said Cecil. “I’m a life member in three different clubs and a life member of the Oregon State Amateur Trapshooting Association.”

For 16 years, Cecil served on the Oregon State ATA board of directors, and he has recently rejoined the board of directors as an alternate director. He also spearheaded the relocation of the ATA shoot to Walla Walla, which proved to be a good choice as it was well attended there. As an ATA contributor, he has always helped to put on the shoots.

“I’ve participated in every one of them,” he said.

He now wears eight achievement medals on his shooter’s vest, including one for breaking 100 straight targets in a doubles event held at Walla Walla’s fall marathon. He’s earned every one of his medals.

Cecil developed his keen aim for the clay birds through weekly practice. He often spends Saturday mornings or Wednesday evenings practicing in La Grande and Sundays in Wallowa. It’s been his passion for the past 25 target years.

But in December 2009, target practice had to be put on hold for a short time while he dealt with a life-threatening illness — gioblastoma, a fast-growing malignant brain tumor located behind his left ear, a part of the brain that affects speech and mobility, said his wife, Becky.

“If left untreated, the doctor said Cecil had about four months to live,” said Becky.

They acted quickly. He and Becky traveled to a specialist in “brain mapping” at the University of Washington Medical Center. There he was examined thoroughly and underwent a delicate brain surgery. The surgeon felt he had successfully removed all of the tumor, he told the Churchills. Cecil and Becky remained in Seattle for the next six weeks so that Cecil could receive radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and then he returned home to rest for a month before resuming activities.

With his doctor’s permission, he quickly returned to trapshooting. His aim was a little off at first, Becky said, and he was naturally disheartened, but Becky encouraged him to keep trying. He did just that — for the love of the sport and for the camaraderie of his trapshooting family of friends who had rallied behind him.

For the next 18 months, Cecil continued taking chemotherapy pills, and he kept practicing at the trap clubs. Then last August, he finished his treatment — just in time for the annual ATA trap shoot championship in Bend. Better yet, he had his game back, and he was ready and eager to compete.

“I feel good,” Cecil said.

Winning always feels good, and for Cecil, it s been a double win.