By Ladonna Paedae Rodriguez
Photos Courtesy of the Family
The headline might read, “Father takes eight year old daughter to a local clay-shoot and a whole new world opens to her.” Of course, the next line should read, “Parents had no idea of how dramatically their lives would change as well.”
The father is Matt Elliott, of Lake Placid, and Molly is his daughter. What began as simply a fun father-daughter day out giving clay shooting a try, became an exciting, all-consuming, rewarding and demanding sport in which Molly, now sixteen years old, excels nationally. Molly and Matt attended the local shoot, then soon after, she joined the Young Guns of Quail Creek shooting club in Okeechobee. Mr. Elliott was so dedicated to the young Elliott’s newfound hobby that he then created the local Ridge Clays shooting club. Within two short years, Molly, who was then just ten years of age, entered and won a local clay-shooting event, competing against boys and girls her age and younger. The fire was lit.
Fast-forward to present day, and Molly Elliott is making a name for herself in the world of competitive clay shooting. Her whirlwind schedule would make most catch their breath. In early June, Molly competed in Hillsdale, Michigan, participating in her favorite discipline, International Bunker Trap. This discipline has fifteen machines, and the competitor moves to the next station after each shot taken. The target is projected from unknown angles in front of the shooter, traveling at 68 mph. In the qualifying event, Molly won a silver medal. Overall, she finished in the top six out of eighty and was the youngest of the top scorers. This competition was to qualify for the National Junior Shooting Olympics team, of which the top three finishers qualified.
In late June, Molly, accompanied by her coach, Scott Layer, and her parents, Matt and Sharla Elliott, traveled to Italy to compete in an invitation-only shoot of the same discipline at the renowned UmbriaVerde shooting club. Molly competed in a mixed team event. In the main event she shot well enough to rank in the top eight. Molly remarked that the skills demonstrated by competitors in Italy were “next level.” Among those competing at the meet was Michael Diamond, a well-known Australian shooter. He has competed in several Olympics and won every Bunker Trap competition in which he participated. Molly considers him one of her role models. Molly did manage to fit in a little sightseeing with her parents in Italy, and she knows how very fortunate she is to have these experiences at such a young age.
July took Molly and family to Ohio for the year’s final meet, where again she competed in team and individual International Bunker Trap, as well as Skeet, Trap and Sporting Clays. Molly earned the title of “Women’s Varsity National Champion” in International Bunker Trap. Skeet involves shooting at clay targets which are mechanically flung from two fixed stations into the air at high speed and at a variety of angles. In the two-day competition of Skeet, she scored an impressive 186 out of 200.