A Lesser-Known Sport Loses a Legend

Photo is courtesy of http://www.berettausa.com/ Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

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Most of my life has been dedicated to following some of the world’s most popular sports such as football, basketball, baseball and soccer.  Even though I have religiously followed them, there is truly only one sport that my family and I have been apart of.  Back in the early 2000’s, my little brother, Matthew, started to get involved in the sport of trapshooting.  For those of you that don’t know, trapshooting is a sport where up to five people are in a squad and their objective is to hit each of the clay targets coming out of the trap house with their gun as they move from left to right on the trap line after every five targets (If I absolutely sucked at explaining the sport, check this out). After about two years of shooting professionally, my brother became one of the best youngsters in the sport and with that recognition came weekly traveling from state to state as well as getting to know who the faces of trapshooting really were.

Just like any other sport, trapshooting has their stars.   Some household names include Harlan Campbell Jr., Tank Lunsford and Kay Ohye, but the face of the Amateur Trapshooting Association is without question, Leo Harrison III.  This past week, Harrison passed away at the age of 56 in St. Louis, Missouri after health complications took a young, yet, fulfilled life.

The Hannibal, Missouri native began shooting trap at the age of 10 and just four years later, he was an All-American. Harrison has been an All-American ever since he earned his first back in 1972. Harrison earned 27 Grand National Championships, over 110 Grand American trophies, 35 Missouri State titles, an ATA High Over All Record and is also a member of the National Trapshooting Hall of Fame.  It is safe to say that Leo was one of the best to ever step up to a trap line, but those that had the chance to meet him quickly learned that Harrison was just as good of a person as he was a trap shooter.

During the 2006 Ohio State Trap Shoot, I was hired to score some of the events throughout the week.  Before the week started, my dad kept talking about Leo Harrison III and referred to him as the “greatest shooter in the world.”  He told me to keep an eye out for him and if I was lucky, he may be assigned to my trap.  I looked all week for Harrison, but on that Thursday as I was sitting in my scorers chair, a man that stood about 6’6” and 375 pounds shook my hand, asked me about my day and signed his name of the scorer’s sheet as, Leo Harrison III. I was in complete awe that I finally got to see the man in action, and he didn’t disappoint. He smoked all 25 targets at my trap, and as he signed the sheet to take it with him to the next trap, he shook my hand again, asked for my name and told me that I did, “one hell of a job.”

To most of you, that may mean absolutely nothing, and I would totally understand.  He isn’t LeBron James, Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter, and I get that.  What Leo Harrison III represented was somebody that could be at the pinnacle of his or her sport and still be a regular person.  Harrison was loved throughout the trap shooting community not only because of his excellent talent, but mostly because he was just an average human being just like you and me.  Harrison didn’t have to talk to me that day, but he did. The chances of finding an “athlete” like Harrison in the sports world today is very unlikely, so take that humanity and embrace it for what it is and not for what we usually see.

On behalf of ‘Our Sports Report’, I would like to send our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers out to the Harrison family.  I also want the Harrison family to know that your son, grandson, husband, father and grandfather not only made an impact on his family and the trapshooting community, but also on a young man from Ohio that will cherish that moment forever.  Thank you Leo, for everything you did, but didn’t have to do.