March 19, 2019 - Odessa, FL
by Lisa Caplinger, Trap & Field Magazine
Florida doubles champion Matthew DeBord took home the win wiith the lone 99. This is the second year in a row Matthew has captured this title, and these are his most memorable wins. He told Trap & Field it felt fantastic. "Whenever you win something big like that, it means a lot; it's so nice to be able to compete with the best." Matthew collected six more awards, including first place among residents in the class doubles plus top junior gold prizes in the Singles Championship, class 16s, Preliminary Handicap and all-around. "l am so blessed to be a part of this sport, and I'm always happy to be out there shooting. I am thankful for the support from my family and the good Lord above."
Matthew joined the ATA in 2009. He shoots a Kolar Max TA with a ProSoft stock, and his shell of choice is Winchester AA. He has placed on the All-American team the last four years, the past three on the junior gold second team and previously on the junior second team.
His dad Steve and Tim Kuhlman helped get him started in this sport. One day Tim told Steve about 4-H shooting at Middletowvn SC. That's how it all began, and after a few years he started attending ATA tournaments when his dad got him signed up. He lived in Oxford, OH, until 2010 and then moved to Belleview, FL, with his mom Brenda and stepdad Jeff. His home club is Robinson Ranch T&S in Dunnellon in the winter months and Middletown SC in the summer months.
He is a junior at Jacksonville University, where he studies management marketing. Business communication classes are his favorite subject. "It teaches you how to communicate to large groups of people and how to speak in public," he said. His future goals include working as a sales rep in a field yet to be determined and possibly owning his own business. Matthew shoots for the Jacksonville Univelsity shotgun team. They practice all disciplines, including trap, skeet and sporting clays. "This has helped me become a better all-around shooter," Matthew said. His hobbies include golfing with stepdad Jeff. Matthew was on a pro golf team in high school, and said they really enjoy golfing together.
The thing he Iikes best abour this sport is the community of people he has met through the years. Besides his parents' support, he has also met a lot of people that have helped. "There are so many good people in this sport, very trustworthy," Matthew said.
At the state shoot he has shot with the same squad, the Robinson Ranch Crew as he calls them, for both years. Matthew said some of his greatest accomplishments include his first 200 straight in the 2015 Grand American Winchester AA Singles Class Championship, where he won the junior runnerup trophy. "That was my favorite day." He also made his way to the back fence at the 2015 Grand American with a squad full of junior shooters, all from Florida. His greatest honor was being the 2016 winner and 2017 runnerup of the Nostalgia shoot held at the Grand American. He won using a 1975 Winchester Y Model 12 he purchased from Pat Neff. "It was so much fun with great competition."
The best advice he ever received is from Tim Hunsaker, who told him, "Don't look at the 100. Take this game one bird at a time." Matt's shooting goals this year include working toward breaking 100 doubles and 100 handicap for his ATA Grand Slam. He said his favorite discipline is handicap. "It is the most challenging and comes with the greatest stories." He attended a Harlan Campbell shooting clinic and said, "Harlan helped improve my mental game."
His favorite ATA tournament is the Ohio State Shoot. "They throw great targets, and it's a fun place with such a good group of people. I always have a great time." What Matthew likes best about the ATA is the support for the youth, keeping them involved for our future, and how it holds on to the history behind the sport. His mom, dad and stepdad are a huge support.
Matt acknowledged that many have helped his game tremendously, and his best word of advice to others is to develop a mental shooting program. "So many times competitors have dropped targets because they failed to manage the six inches between their ears. Then when they drop one, it is too late. Focus on the next target."