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Top shot: world champion in skeet shooter conquers the competition and promotes the sport – Salisbury Post

SALISBURY – When Victoria Stellato won a women’s clay pigeon shooting championship when she was just 13, her mother was proud but not surprised.

“Victoria is a competitor,” said Kelly Stellato, Victoria’s mother. “She doesn’t want to go out and is not well. She has that drive. If she does something, she will do it well. ”

Not to mention that most of Victoria’s competitors were much older than she was, or that she had only learned to shoot two years earlier. She went to San Antonio in 2012 to win at world level and had done it.

She hasn’t stopped winning since then.

The now 22-year-old Mocksville resident won the doubles championship at the World Skeet Shooting Championships in October – defeating both men and women to claim what she described as the high point of her career.

Victoria has shot targets across the country while battling for state, national and world titles, but she started clay pigeon shooting with the Rowan County Wildlife Association. The private members club at 650 Majolica Road has an archery range, pistol booth, and extensive shotgun rigs for shooting traps or clay pigeons.

In clay pigeon shooting, a competitor uses a shotgun to hit clay targets that are mechanically shot into the air in an overlapping pattern from two separate “houses” or “sheds”. The activity is designed to simulate a live hunt, but takes place with fragile targets instead of ducks or pigeons. It’s fast-paced, requires focus, and tests a person’s reaction time, which is why Victoria fell in love with it after trying it out as a sixth grader with the Rowan County Wildlife Association.

The Rowan County Wildlife Association was run for years by the late Joe Early, who helped Victoria when her feet were getting wet while exercising. She also received guidance from other seasoned members of the club before eventually learning from her own private trainer.

The first tournament Victoria competed in was held at the club, but she soon appeared on a much larger stage. After winning the competition at the Women’s .410 World Championships in 2012, Victoria repeated her title in 2013 and 2014, becoming the youngest woman to win a world title at the same time.

In the years thereafter, it has won numerous other championships and has received sponsorship from some of the country’s top gun brands, including Kolar competition shotguns.

Victoria was helped in her skeet shooting efforts by her mother, who has brought her daughter to and from countless trainings and competitions. Kelly was so ready to support her daughter’s sudden interest in clay pigeon shooting because she received a life-changing medical diagnosis about two decades ago.

“When Victoria was very young, about three years old, they told me I had a year to live,” said Kelly.

Kelly suffered from a brain defect that she had had since she was born. While doctors initially expected the defect to be life-threatening, Kelly underwent an operation that kept her alive. She coped with concussion-like symptoms to this day.

“It gives you a different perspective,” said Kelly. “If (Victoria) wants to go after something and it’s her thing, I’m ready to say, ‘OK. Let’s do this.'”

Victoria has a similar, albeit less severe, version of the same medical problem that can cause her to pass out if her head is pointing down for extended periods of time. Victoria is treating the disease and does not expect to have surgery herself.

While in almost all of Victoria’s tournaments, Kelly rarely had time to watch Victoria do what she does best. Kelly was often busy directing other competitors to make money to offset expensive travel and tournament expenses.

The sacrifices her mother made have not escaped Victoria, who moved with her mother from New York to North Carolina as a child

“Until I turned 16, she drove me to all of my practices two days a week,” said Victoria. “She drove me to all of my tournaments and always paid. Actually, she did a lot. Without her I wouldn’t have made it. “

Kelly enabled her daughter to be successful at clay pigeon shooting, but Victoria’s performance on the shooting range can be attributed to several factors, most notably her mental strength.

“It’s about not giving in to the pressure, not making mistakes,” said Victoria. “If you haven’t made any mistakes, you have to be careful not to miss anything.”

The best skeet shooters usually only miss a target or two per round, which means you need a near-perfect score to win.

Victoria also attributes her success to her nimble eyes.

“On the physical side, I’d say the young eyes because it’s all about the eyes,” Victoria said. As long as you can see the target, you can hit it. That definitely helps. “

Whether it’s her eyes or what’s behind them, Victoria has already cobbled together an impressive résumé in her tournament career. Now she is helping others to do the same through coaching. Victoria has several students who live primarily in Pennsylvania and Maryland but head downstairs for a few days to practice under her guidance.

With Victoria training both novice and seasoned skeet shooters, Victoria works to spread the sport she loves.

“I wanted to bring in a few more people, especially younger people, because we have such an older population,” said Victoria.

Though proud of her own trophies and medals, Victoria said her proudest moments are when her students write to her about their conquests on the shooting range.

“I want them all to hit everyone, even me,” said Victoria.

In addition to coaching and competitions, Victoria is the vice president of the North Carolina Skeet Shooting Association. She has held a leadership position in the organization since high school and is now the deputy commanding officer, responsible for tournament planning and serving as an ambassador for the sport.

Victoria visited the Rowan County Wildlife Association on Saturday to present medals to the winners of the junior state competition. It was the first tournament she ever competed in and the only time she competed in the junior division.

The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed Victoria’s tournament schedule, but the reigning world champion plans to defend her double title at the World Skeet Shooting Competition in San Antonio this October.

More information about the Rowan County Wildlife Association can be found online at www.rcwa.club. For more information on Victoria Stellato, please visit her website at www.victoriastellatoskeet.com.

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