By Charles Collier, The Denmark News

Georgia Pantzlaff, who helped lead Denmark’s high school trap shooting team to a second-place performance at the Wisconsin Clay Target League (WCTL) state competition on June 10, will be joining the Wisconsin Junior Olympic (WJO) team for a far more difficult version of the fastest growing high school sport in the state.

Olympic-style bunker trap with 12 positions featuring varying heights and angles differs from the standard five-position, 25-target rounds which the incoming Denmark junior has dominated the last two seasons. The targets in bunker trap also travel at higher speeds, requiring much quicker reflexes.

In her first attempt at the new format, Pantzlaff hit 11 of 25 targets. Having averaged 23 of 25 in regular trap during the season, the new degree of difficulty is easy to imagine.

“Most people only hit two or three on their first try, so it was very impressive,” decorated trap shooter Fritz Thistle said.

Not long after Pantzlaff finished the round, she was asked by an official to get her parents.

“I was told, ‘Georgia’s in trouble and they want to talk to you,’” head coach and father Andy Pantzlaff said.

The official inquiring was former All-American and 2013 Wisconsin Trapshooting Hall of Fame inductee Fritz Thistle. After watching Pantzlaff’s performance, he told Andy, “she’s a natural. Normally shooters only hit two targets on their first try. She’s smooth on everything she did.”

Thistle then extended an invitation to Georgia to practice with the WJO shooters every weekend until October. Pantzlaff was the lone shooter of more than 800 participants at WCTL State to be invited to the 40-member Junior Olympic roster.

Already spending 4-5 nights a week shooting trap and sporting clays with a Browning Citori Crossover shotgun, Pantzlaff says her biggest focal point of improvement is her stance.

“Just trying to stay focused on every target no matter what happened before,” Georgia said.

Remaining focused on what’s at-hand is the strategy Georgia and her father are applying with the new invitation. While both are excited at the potential for Olympic competition, they acknowledged that currently practice is all which is entailed.

“She could be able to join competition down the road, but it’s just for practice right now,” Andy said. “[The Sportsman’s Club] has always wanted an Olympian out of Maribel, so we’ll see where it goes.”