Hugh "Bud" McKinley

Not many can say they have been to 76 Grand Americans. Hugh “Bud” McKinley, buy information pills Trapshooting Hall of Fame 1995 enshrinee, can. He’s 85 years old and attended his first one in 1926. He hasn’t missed one since. This past June during the Ohio State Shoot, he stopped by the museum, and we recorded on video tape some of the memorable moments of Hugh’s trapshooting career. His eyes have failed him recently, but his recall of past events hasn’t. The paragraphs that follow are mostly Bud’s words paraphrased for brevity in some cases. My name is Hugh “Bud” McKinley and as a small boy I lived in Harrisburg, Ohio where we had a gun club. When I was seven years old I was quite interested in shooting, and my father bought me a little single barrel shotgun. I used to stand behind the trap house and shoot targets. That’s how it all started.

Before I went to school, my dad used to go rabbit hunting, and I would make him save his empty shells and bring them home so I could smell them.

Dad took me to my very first Grand American in 1926, and I saw Charlie was the very first man to invent a gun specifically for trapshooting. It was called the Young Two-Shot Gun. He was a very personable fellow and was nicknamed Sparrow because he once shot a challenge match over in Indianapolis and killed 99 of 100 sparrows. He also made the first release trigger out of an old shoehorn. It was called a relaxing trigger in those days, and you let your hand go loose instead of your finger There is one in the museum along with a Young Two-Shot Gun. I gave them to the museum.

Charlie won the Grand shooting an Ithaca single barrel. In his later years, Sparrow ran into financial trouble, and a bunch of his friends got together and raffled off his old Ithaca. They sold chances for a few years at a dollar apiece or whatever you were willing to donate. Bud Loucks of Michigan finally wound up with it and donated the gun to the Hall of Fame Museum.

God gave me a good memory. I even remember things I’d like to forget. I well remember the great Mark Arie of Champaign, IL. He was a rather stocky individual and shot a Marlin pump without a rib. He won everything he ever shot for including an Olympic gold medal. He was of German descent and liked to drink a bit. Jimmy Robinson told me the first thing Mark did upon arriving at the Grand American was to ask Jimmy where was the nearest place to buy home brew.

After the Second War, I was shooting with a gentleman from Endicott, NY named C. J. Becker (note: Becker was a school teacher and the late Frank Little’s eighth-grade math teacher). Becker was a Navy lieutenant commander during the war and right after it ended he was stationed in the state of Washington. Here he saw Arnold Riegger break 24 of 25 targets the very first time he ever shot trap. He asked me if I ever had heard of Riegger. I replied that I hadn’t. “Well, you will,” he said. That year Arnold came to the Grand American shooting a $20 Winchester Model 37 single shot with an exposed tiny hammer with no rib. He went out on the line with a can of water and a rag. After every few shots, he would wipe off the barrel. With all that heal coming off a barrel with no rib, Arnold broke between 97 and 99 every day! The next year, he came back with a Model 12 Winchester with a nice leather pad on the comb. If he missed a target he’d cut off piece of shell box and raise the comb a little bit higher. During the 1951 Grand, he had an old Ford car parked right out there, and he slept underneath it every night. Riegger is the person responsible for the 27 yard line becoming part of registered shooting. He won so many events in the West from 25 yards that they changed it to 27.

I’m bragging about myself at this particular time, but I was only target or two behind Riegger in the High Over All and All-Around during the 1951 Grand with one day left to shoot The locker room was above where the Hall of Faint offices are now. Here, I met P 0. Harbage of West Jefferson, Ohio, the 1939 Clay Target champion. “You’ll beat him,” P.0. said. “He ‘s not that great a doubles shot. I’ll get him some whiskey. He can’t handle liquor, and you’ll win the High-Over-All and All-Around.” Maynard Henry of California (Western Zone vice president at the time) jerked a bottle out of Arnold’s hand just in time.

“Don’t let him drink’ he said. “He doesn‘t have a lick of sense when he’s drunk” Maynard sort of looked after Arnold money-wise and so forth. Anyway, I finished two targets behind him in the High-Over-All and one short in the All-Around.

I won the National Doubles Championship in 1955, and it was the greatest thrill I had on the ATA grounds. I shot in a squad with the great Winchester pro Cliff Doughman and we were down to the last trap. This was the year they had all the trouble with Remington targets. I had some at home that had as many as 14 or 15 holes in them and they didn’t break. But I was shooting a gun with an extra tight choke. Doughman asked me how I was doing and I told him I was down three. He said he was down seven, and he was among the better doubles shooters at the time. I told my wife, “If I can break the last ten pair; I’m going to win this doubles race.” And I did with 97 alone.

Bud McKinley was tough to beat in the old days. In addition to winning the Grand American doubles, he won the Doubles Championship in 1952 during the heyday of the New York Athletic Club’s North American Clay Target Championships. His trophy for that win was a solid gold Tiffany medal with a diamond inset. It is now on display at the Hall of Fame Museum. In 1964, he won the singles and doubles at the same tournament which, at the time, was considered the most prestigious shoot in America and second only to the Grand American.

But if High McKinley is going to be remembered for anything, it will be for serving as general manager of the ATA from October 1964 through October 1974. During this crucial time of growth and modernization, he was overseeing the transition of hand record keeping to automation, erecting permanent structures for industry exhibition, redesigning shoot reports, introducing plastic membership cards, installing interrupters on traps and procuring targets on a bid basis.

Bud doesn’t pull the trigger anymore as those keen eyes of yesterday don’t see the targets too clearly today. That doesn’t stop him from coming to the Grand and renewing lots of old acquaintances.

I doubt if anyone else alive has seen so many changes in our game or seen so many great shooters start and finish illustrious careers. And it all got started when a young pre­schooler started to sniff burnt powder from empty hulls that his dad brought home after rabbit hunting.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 June 2010 14:14