Dave Long, a 61-year-old Master Class shooter from Pontiac, Illinois, has been shooting sporting clays for 18 years. During that span, he has made the Illinois NSCA All-State team six times, including the last three years running.
Dave, who with his brother co-owns the Long Bros., Inc. trucking company, got his start at Diamond S Sporting Clays in Tremont, Illinois. “It was all hand traps and I couldn’t get enough of it,” Dave said. “I would go back out and reshoot the course while the rest of my group would wait in the parking lot for me. I was addicted after the first time.” He also shoots a little non-registered trap and skeet.
Early on Dave attended the 2001 state shoot at Trail of Tears Club in Jonesboro, Illinois. He watched as Brad Davis and Ralph Everson put on an epic display of shooting in the North-South shoot-offs. “I had never seen anyone shoot like that in my life,” he recalled.
But he’s had some great days of his own. “My goal had always been to be high overall in a tournament with over 100 shooters,” he said. “In 2016-2017, I accomplished that four times, with one of them having 147 shooters and I won it with a score of 96.”
Other notable achievements include: 2005 IL North Zone Champion; 2010 IL North Zone AA Champion; 2011 Illinois State Championship 5 Stand Runner Up; 2013 Illinois State Championship Veteran Champion; 2013 Illinois State Championship Master Class Champion; 2013 Illinois State Championship 5 Stand Veteran Champion; 2016 Illinois State Championship 20 gauge Champion. He made All-State in 2004, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
These days Dave shoots a Krieghoff K-80 with a fitted custom stock by S&S Stocks Plus in Polson, Montana. He uses Muller chokes and Clever 1-ounce ammo traveling at 1,200 feet per second.
He wears Ranger Edge glasses and custom molded hearing protection.
After working for years with John Woolley, Dave now takes lessons from Wendell Cherry about once a year. Cherry has helped him with his stance, eye hold and gun hold points, as well as the way he moves the gun with my lower body. Dave shoots mostly maintained lead and works to focus on the process instead of the result.
Dave practices on a skeet and trap field to build consistency, forcing himself to break 10 in a row before moving to a new spot. When he reshoots a registered course, he shoots it as he would in competition, hoping to replicate the pressures of tournament day. If he has problems with any particular station, he goes back and practices those particular targets again and again. He estimates he shoots about twice as many practice targets as registered birds – and he shoots as many as 5,000 registered targets a year!
He is a member of Northbrook Sports Club,
Palos Sportsman’s Club
and Darnall’s Gun Works near Bloomington. His favorite places to shoot include Northbrook,
Wern Valley and
Waukesha Gun Club in Wisconsin, and
Quail Creek in Florida. Until its recent closure, he also enjoyed shooting at Upland Game and Clays.
As the owner of a successful business and a married father of four, Dave knows that the key to success is dedication and hard work. “I am a pretty determined individual and I don’t like getting beat,” he said. “With that being said, I know I am not the most talented so I have to outwork my competition through lots of practice. I love practicing even more than the tournaments.”
He thinks that clays could be improved by cutting down on European rotation tournaments. Squadded events, he thinks, makes it easier for new shooters to find someone to shoot with and make friends on the competition circuit. “I think some people tend to stay home if it is European rotation rather than take the chance of going and not finding someone to shoot with,” he said.
One thing’s for sure – if you go to an event and are squadded with Dave Long, pay attention. You might learn something from one of the top shooters in our state!
Past Spotlight Articles
Dr. Ralph Everson
Small Framed Big Shots - Michael Iverson
Lyle R. Shear
David P Lauzen
Upland Hunt Club
The Pennell Family - Doing it Right
Gary Fitzjarrel II - FLC Shooting Grounds
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