Once again, Jake Ratcliffe proved himself to be one of the best skeet shooters in the nation.
Ratcliffe, 14, placed third overall in the .20 gauge division of the 77th Annual National Skeet Shooting Association World Championships, Sept. 28-Oct. 5 in San Antonio. The Harvest Fellowship Christian School eighth grader was the youngest medalist on the stand behind runner-up Pat Byrne and champion Paul Giambrone.
Ratcliffe's Worlds performance follows a dominant showing at state competition on Sept. 2, winning High Overall and High All-Around titles by hitting 394 of 400 targets. Ratcliffe left state as the youngest ever winner of High Overall and High All-Around.
Of the more than 900 shooters competing at nationals, only 58 shooters hit 100 percent of their targets in the initial rounds. Only three shot well enough out of the 58 to qualify for the final round in the National Shooting Complex.
Ratcliffe was one of the three, shooting well enough in doubles — a clay target released from the high house and the low house simultaneously — to make the medal stand.
"He's calm and he doesn't let a dropped target effect his performance," said Jake's father, Jonathan, of his son's improvement since last year. "Jake's really worked on his doubles hard the second half of the year."
One of the only shooters to best Ratcliffe was Giambrone, who has become a mentor and coach to the Madill native. Giambrone is a 13-time world champion, while Ratcliffe has actually beaten Byrne before in competition.
"Whenever I get in a shootoff with bigger shooters, I don't really get nervous," Jake said. "You've gotta have the right thought process."
While in San Antonio, Ratcliffe got a glimpse of his Junior World Championship honors from this summer. After winning the .410 bore event of the Sub-Junior division, Ratcliffe was honored with a place in the Skeet Shooting Hall of Fame, located in San Antonio.
The season starts again for Ratcliffe in March. He says he'll be back to practice in the meantime.
Erik K. Horne