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Mitchell's top shot: Nagel to be inducted into National Trapshooting Hall of Fame

Fred Nagel, of Mitchell, will be inducted into the National Trapshooting Hall of Fame later this month. (Matt Gade / Republic)

When asked what it takes to be a nationally ranked trapshooter, Mitchell native Fred Nagel has some simple tips.

"A lot of luck, good eyesight, and just being able to do it," he said.

A shooter since he was eight-years old, Nagel has always had a knack for shooting and on Aug. 7, Nagel will join three fellow trapshooters as inductees into the National Trapshooting Hall of Fame during the 50th annual induction ceremony in Sparta, Illinois.

Nagel will be only the second South Dakotan to be placed in the National Hall of Fame, following Allen Tomnitz who was inducted in 2002.

"It's amazing," Nagel said. "The award is the pinnacle of the sport, the very top level."

A third-generation trapshooter, Nagel was introduced to the sport by his father, Joe Nagel, and started shooting trap when he was only eight years old.

"My dad shot, so naturally when I was a kid I would go with him to the (gun) club every Thursday and every weekend," said Nagel.

Nagel picked up the sport quickly as a kid and continued practicing when he saw good results.

"I was pretty good at it. When you're good at something it makes it easier to keep doing it," Nagel said.

Fast forward six years and countless targets later, Nagel won his first championship at age of 14.

Thirty-eight years later, in 2016, he was inducted into the South Dakota Trapshooting Hall of Fame, winning more than 60 South Dakota state titles, including 17-time high overall champion in South Dakota, five-time Diamond Badge winner and 15-time all-around champion at the state meet. Along with his many titles in South Dakota, Nagel has seven first-place awards at the national level.

Nagel didn't think things could get any better, but that is when South Dakota's State Delegate for the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) Bob Felber submitted an application to the National Trapshooting Hall of Fame committee for Nagel.

The vote was unanimous: Nagel was in.

Although Nagel figured one day it would be his time in the spotlight, he didn't know when it would happen.

"You're surprised in the moment. They don't tell you when it's going to happen," Nagel said.

Though the award makes him feel old, he said, Nagel has no intention of retiring from the sport any time soon.

"I still have 25 years in me—if I live that long," Nagel, 54, said.

While he doesn't practice much any more due to the busy nature of his family's business — Nagel Painting — Nagel still enjoys traveling around the country to different trapshooting tournaments every year. He says the sport is unique because it's an activity in which people of all ages, genders and backgrounds can participate. The season can be short or long, practice is optional and it's not a physical sport.

"There are girls, old people, kids. The kids are the best shots right now, the kids are winning a lot of stuff," Nagel said.

He sees more youth in the sport now than ever and Nagel hopes the new generation continues to have an interest in shooting trap.

"It's a growing sport, it's probably growing more with kids than it is at my level. Hopefully the kids will keep with it 10 years from now," Nagel said.

The reason to give the sport a shot?

"It's fun and everybody should compete at something," Nagel said. "Go out and shoot. If you're not a very good shot, you can still have some fun."

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