If you visit the USA High School Clay Target League in Minnesota, you might be surprised to spot a 60-year-old gun on the line. But there is one—rising 11th grader Tate Putman’s gun.
Growing up, Tate benefitted from most of his family being interested in shooting. One grandfather, Roger Harter, whom he calls “Pappy,” started teaching Tate when he was 6 years old. Roger said he gathers the family to his lake home every year for a week, and shooting is always part of the family fun—especially for Tate and his younger sister, Addie, who is quite a sharpshooter herself. The family uses pellet guns to teach the youngest children safe gun handling at these events.
Tate’s other grandfather, LeRoy Putman (“Grandpa”), also took him shooting at a young age. “Tate has a good eye for shooting,” LeRoy said. “The first time I took him out with my old .22 pump-action, he hit the target, dead on, first try.”
Tate’s father eventually encouraged him to join the high school clay target league. Tate needed a gun for trap shooting, though, so Grandpa LeRoy donated one of his: a Remington Model 878 Automaster, made in 1959. LeRoy bought the gun while he was in high school himself.
Tate didn’t start on the clay shooting team until ninth grade, while most of his fellow students started in seventh. He worked hard, though, and won a “rookie of the year” award. His first year also included one perfect round—25 hit of 25 attempted—which happened to be the last round of the season when his whole family, including both sets of grandparents, came to watch him shoot.
“I happened to be at the state meet last year,” LeRoy said, “and it kind of brought a tear to my eye to see him using that old gun. I think he’s gotten a little teasing about it, but he still seems proud to shoot with it.”
Tate continues working hard at school and at clay shooting, since he would like to letter in the sport before he leaves high school. He practices with the team every Sunday and competes every Monday. At home, he practices each detail of the shots, such as placing the gun at just the right point on his shoulder smoothly and quickly.
“My first reason to work hard in all I do is to glorify to God,” Tate said. “I also want to make my family proud. I want to work hard, do my best and make sure it shows.”