For the week of June 9, 1999  thru June 15, 1999  

Bernie Voyles makes Idaho’s trapshooting shrine

Well-deserved honor for Pocatello-born pressman

Express Staff Writer

Bernie Voyles wastes no time when he’s shooting trap.

He shoots early, and surely, and doesn’t leave much of the clay target to remember. The super-orange disc disappears in a wisp of black smoke.

Direct hit. Reload.

On the trapshooting range, Bernie Voyles is all business. Not much wasted motion.

Other shooters might take aim at a passing seagull to relieve the tension that comes with the territory when you’re trying to break them all.

Not Bernie Voyles. Sometimes it seems like he’s in a completely different world. To run a string of targets, you have to be alert, aware of everything, totally concentrating.

Voyles looks straight ahead while other shooters in his rotation take their turns. He raises his gun and tells the puller to proceed. Pull! The clay target goes poof. History.

Never had a chance.

In the hierarchy of Idaho trapshooters, Bernie Voyles is way, way up there—a working-class hero whose reputation is built on a tremendous desire to compete and excel.

After 30 years of pulling the trigger, he stands pretty much alone and his accomplishments speak for themselves.

That’s one reason Voyles was inducted into the Idaho Trapshooting Hall of Fame during May’s Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) state competition in Lewiston.

Pocatello-born Voyles, 51, a four-color pressman at Express Printing in Hailey since 1994, has lived in Hailey for the past five years with his wife Donna.

The father of four and a grandfather seven times over, Bernie has been a pressman for 32 years in Twin Falls and Hailey. Work and family have always come first for Bernie.

Shooting is right behind.

"Making the Hall of Fame is a well-deserved honor for Bernie," said Peggy Hurtig, who ran Sun Valley Gun Club with her husband Captain Ben Hurtig in the 1970s when Voyles was breaking records and amassing state titles.

Keep in mind trapshooting has always been an expensive sport. Ben Hurtig said, "Before World War II, when guys drove up to the trap range, they drove up in Cadillacs.

"You see, Bernie was raised in the family of a working man, and he’s a working man himself. It’s costly. Shells cost money, and guns cost money. Fortunately Bernie was good enough to win some money."

And smart enough to keep his costs down.

He would scrimp and save his money and recycle his reloading supplies by doing things such as reusing wads and picking up unbroken targets to use for practice, according to his Trapshooting Hall of Fame description.

While other shooters shell out up to $5,000 for hi-tech guns and triggers, Voyles uses the same Pirazzi single-barrel shotgun he bought for $1,750 in 1976. He’s used it 23 years.

Time has passed and many shells have been emptied, but Voyles and his trusty gun are still old reliables. After an eight-year layoff from competition from 1989-97, he has picked up where he left off.

Just this past Sunday at Twin Falls Trap Club, Voyles won the state P.I.T.A. (Pacific International Trapshooting Association) handicap and high all-around titles.

Two weeks ago while being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Lewiston, Voyles tied Stu Welton of Boise for the singles championship with 200 straight targets. Welton, one of this country’s top six or seven shooters, then nipped Voyles in a shootoff for the title.

It’s hard to believe there was a time when Bernie Voyles didn’t shoot trap. Growing up in Pocatello, however, he mainly played center field for Highland High School’s baseball team and lettered in wrestling for three years.

Voyles went to printing school at Idaho State University for two years and took his first job in Twin Falls in 1967. At 19, he was pressman at Standard Printing. He also worked at Ace Printing during his 27-year stay in Twin Falls.

A friend at a Twin Falls sporting goods store took Voyles duck hunting.

Bernie said, "He watched me shoot ducks and asked me to go out to the trap club. My first time, I broke 7 out of 25. He kept on feeding me shells. Next time I hit 18, then 18, then 18 more."

There’s no big secret to trapshooting, Ben Hurtig said.

"Oh, you need good hand-eye coordination. And 20-15 eyesight," said Hurtig, who taught hundreds of trapshooters during his 22 years at Sun Valley Gun Club. "But no shooter has ever been born. They’re made. It’s shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot."

At one time, Voyles never missed a weekend of shooting.

Indeed, one of his career highlights came at Sun Valley Gun Club, in July 1978, when he tied a world record by hitting 200 straight targets from 27 yards—only the second person to achieve that feat.

"Bernie has always been a real good handicap shooter," said Ben Hurtig.

Starting in 1989, Voyles backed off from competition. "I just didn’t go after it very hard for the next eight years," he said. "Then, in 1997, the president of Wood River Gun Club, Ted Schlecht, got me going and I started shooting competitively once again."

His recent Hall of Fame induction got Voyles pumped up and he ripped off a couple of weekends of great shooting. He said, "I started getting the bug, but I basically came out again because of the Hall of Fame."

Voyles is appreciative of the people who have helped him along the way with emotional and financial support—people like the Hurtigs of Ketchum. "Ben and Peggy have been just super to me," he said.

Bernie will continue shooting trap at Wood River Gun Club south of Bellevue and sporting clays at Blaine County Gun Club.

And he’ll continue teaching the right way to do things to his youngest son, 12-year-old Wood River Middle School student Rick Voyles.

Bernie’s other children are Tim Voyles, 32, who rebuilds airplanes in Hot Springs, Arkansas; daughter Terri, 30, of Twin Falls, a Walker Center counselor; and Tiffany Voyles, 22, of Hailey, who works at TEI in Bellevue.


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