Schoolcraft Teen Wins Gold Medal in Skeet Shooting

kyle fleck
Kyle Fleck holds his treasured zoli z-sport gun over his shoulders.

By Sue Moore

Kyle Fleck, a freshman at Schoolcraft High School, walked off with the gold medal at the International Nationals in Colorado Springs in the Mens’ Intermediate Division skeet shooting against six other competitors. There were 44 contestants in his division at the competition in which he took sixth place overall.

It wasn’t a surprise win. He had been training hard all summer. In order to qualify to shoot in Colorado, Fleck had to participate at the State International Nationals, where he shot skeet in both 2016 and 2017 against college-age shooters. He took the silver medal in 2016 and bronze medal in 2017. He continued to excel and took two more gold belt buckles at state the next two seasons in sporting clays. In what are called Fun Shoots throughout the season leading up to State, Fleck has more medals than he can count both for squads of three shooters and individual competition.

He began shooting as a fifth grader in Schoolcraft with the Mattawan Shooting team in skeet, sporting clays and trap. “I was kind of bad at first but got better from there. I maybe hit two out of 50 shots.” Skeet is performed in a semi-circle with stations called a high house and low house targets tossed across the semi-circle. Trap shooting is considered easier than skeet. There are eight stations to shoot from in skeet where the target is flying right across consistently. Sporting clays go up. The shooter is judged on how many targets he or she hits.

It takes good eye-hand coordination to be accurate, Fleck said. As a sixth grader, he participated in Nationals in Sparta, Ill. with two eighth graders on his squad. They brought home a fourth place trophy in skeet.

Fleck’s coach is Mike Carl, who is also the coach for Hillsdale College where his shooters there are national champions. He saw that Fleck had talent and started working with him one on one, learning international skeet as opposed to the American skeet he was used to shooting. The difference is the way the gun is held. The targets are faster and in a different rotation in international style, which is used in Olympic competition.

Colorado Springs was a challenge for all shooters, according to his mother, Cindy Fleck. “Day one had high winds but Kyle still managed to shoot 20/19/19 out of 25 in three rounds. Going into day two, Kyle was only two targets in the lead where he pulled off a 22/23 winning the gold medal. Shooting with the mountains as your background was an amazing experience.  Colorado Springs is the home of the Olympic Training Center. Of course we visited it as a family while we were there.”

“The first day I shot four boxes of ammunition,” her son said. “I was more nervous practicing than during the competition. There were a whole bunch of people watching but I felt confident going into it and adapted to the mountain range background. If you keep your eyes on the target, all else comes together,” Fleck said. “My coach says the secret to getting better is repetition and little by little I learned the fundamentals my first two years.”

A box of ammunition costs $6 and the gun he has, a Zoli Z Sport, cost $4,000 used, he said. He will keep honing his skills in hopes of a partial scholarship to Hillsdale College where he can compete at an even higher level.

Who knows, maybe someday he will try out for the Olympics.

He met three Olympic shooters while in Colorado and several other champions while competing in state and national tournaments. He said his goal will take lots of work, but he expects to be there with the best.

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