'Like a family': Local shooter finds community through passion for skeet

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Shown is Alice Masaracchia, a Leavenworth resident and skeet shooter that competed with St. James Academy's shooting teams during the spring. Masaracchia won the Kansas State High School Clay Target League Skeet Tournament June 18 at Ark Valley Gun Club in Keshi, Kansas.

Competitive shooting at the high school level has seen a rise in popularity across the United States and especially here at home as the Kansas High School Clay Target League held its state tournament for skeet and trap shooters June 18 at Ark Valley Gun Club in Keshi, Kansas. 

On a day of intense competition between high schoolers from all over the state, Leavenworth incoming senior Alice Masaracchia nailed 89 of 100 targets in four rounds over two sessions to claim the women’s state championship. 

Shown is Alice Masaracchia with her father, Brig. Gen. Charles Masaracchia after Alice's win at the state skeet tournament.

Masaracchia began shooting three years ago with her dad, Brig. Gen. Charles Masaracchia, at Fort Riley and fell in love with it after being convinced to give it a shot. 

“I started shooting trap three years ago at Fort Riley. Here in Kansas trap shooting is big,” she said. “My dad was shooting with some family friends and they convinced me to try. I am so glad they did. We moved to Texas shortly after and that is where I started skeet shooting. Skeet is a big deal in Texas. Fort Hood has a shooting range and I started shooting with my dad there and soon a few of the members were coaching me.”

Shortly after, she was shooting in local tournaments in Texas and competed in the Junior National Skeet Tournament at Fort Bragg in 2019 where she exceeded expectations. 

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said, “and I shot better than my average and learned a lot.”

Since coming to Leavenworth, Masaracchia joined the St. James Academy shooting team – under head coach Arron Heinerikson  through a waiver and continues to work with her dad at Brunner Range on Fort Leavenworth. 

“I can not say enough about how welcoming they were,” she said of the St. James team, “and what a great group of coaches and families and shooters they all are.”

Despite the awards and recognition, skeet shooting has become more about community for Masaracchia since she became involved in the sport. When her dad was deployed, the drive to improve didn’t wane as support from others was abundant. 

“The skeet shooting community is like a family,” she said. “Everyone encourages each other to do their best. We have made lifelong friends within the shooting community. At Hood, while my dad was deployed, the members shot with me and went to tournaments with me. It made the deployment a little easier to handle.”

Shown is Alice Masaracchia with her coach Ken Wagner of Fort Hood after she shot her first straight (25 hits without a miss).

Since then, she has created many memorable moments but none of them top her first straight – hitting all 25 targets in a round.

“I have made so many memories while shooting but as a competitive person I find that my greatest memories are made when I shoot well against top-notch competitors,” she said. “And I remember my first straight. For your first ever straight, the shooters you are shooting with throw your hat on the ground and shoot it.  So cool. To this day, I still love shooting a straight. It is always exciting.”

Shown is Alice Masaracchia competing in the Armed Forces Skeet Tournament May 17-21 at Fort Bragg.

Another memorable moment came earlier this year when Alice and Charles competed in the Armed Forces Skeet Competition at Fort Bragg. 

“I enjoyed spending time with my dad doing something we both love,” she said. “We can not be on the same team because we always want to cheer for each other. Comparing scores is always fun. It was an awesome experience and I am thankful that we got to go. These memories will last a lifetime.”

Aside from shooting, Masaracchia has competed in softball, basketball and soccer but decided to stick with shooting and soccer once she started high school. She plans to stick with St. James' shooting team next season and branch out to compete with their trap, 5 stand and sporting clay categories.

When it comes to the future, she isn’t sure where shooting will take her but she knows it will be involved.

“Shooting will be something I do as an adult and I hope to pass the love on to my children someday,” she said. “Just like my dad has passed it on to me. I would love to go to college and shoot for a team. I will definitely continue to shoot in tournaments and for fun.”

“I feel like it is important to get more girls into the sport and would love to be an ‘ambassador’ for the sport. I see myself staying active in the skeet shooting community and possibly working in the industry organizing shoots or becoming an official. Ultimately, I will continue to shoot with my family and friends making more memories.”