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Roxanne Gay holds Mississippi title in Sporting Clays



Roxanne Gay, Mississippi State Women’s Champion in Sporting Clay competition. (photos by Leon Pantenburg)

When Roxanne and Joe Gay went to Tunica with their friend Mike Kavanaugh to a sporting clay event, it was just for fun.

She “could actually hit a target,” Roxanne Gay recalled. “I thought I was pretty awesome.”

Wearing protective glasses, Roxanne prepares to shoot.

That was 19 years ago, and since then, she has racked up about 100 trophies in local, state and national competitions. She tied for first place nationally and is currently the Mississippi State Women’s Champion.

Gay grew up in Vicksburg, the daughter of the late Fred and Marguerite Malik. After graduating from Warren Central High School, she studied nursing and earned her RN. She married Joe Gay, and they have two daughters, Lindsey Koestler and Lauren Rohrer.

She knew how to use a gun before the Tunica trip, for she went hunting with Joe and they sometimes target-practiced on the farm.

Sporting clays simulate flight paths of live game such as ducks, doves, pheasants and rabbits. In sporting clay competition, Gay uses a Blaser, a German-made shotgun with four interchangeable barrels – .410, 28, 20 and 12 gauge.

The competition is keen, and competitors shoot at a moving target.

“It’s moving and so are you,” Gay explained. “You must stay ahead of the target.”

It’s an action-filled sport that’s fun for the whole family.

She said it calls for hand-to-eye coordination and advises to “go with your instinct.” When Gay shoots, she has both eyes open to acquire the target, “and then I squint one eye prior to taking the shot.”

Roxanne’s exquisite gun is decorated with beautiful engravings.

“You aim a rifle, but you point a shotgun,” Gay said, and advises to pull the shotgun into your shoulder to reduce recoil. Otherwise, it will “kick” you.

Gay has competed in NSCA-sanctioned events in Tunica, Memphis, Flora, Baton Rouge and San Antonio. Her best score was 94 out of 100. When the Sporting Clay event was held for a few years in Yokena, her best score was 92.

Gay said that she practices some at home, and her husband and daughters join her, but they shoot for fun, not to compete. Her son-in-law, Chase Koestler, competes in some of the NSCA events when work allows.

Sporting Clay shooting is more challenging to her than hunting, Gay said. Once, she killed a nine-point buck after being on the stand for about 45 minutes.

“It just stood there,” she said, adding that shooting it “was more like luck than skill.”

Roxanne Gay won this trophy by placing first in AA class shooting at the Pine Belt Gun Club near Flora.

In competition, E is the lowest class and Master is the highest class. Competitors progress through the classes by winning events in tournaments. Gay’s goal is to reach Master Class and shoot well enough to be sponsored.

“I like competing with other women and men,” she said. “This is a gender-neutral competition (where) men and women compete as equals. If I win, it was because I legitimately won.”

Gordon Cotton is the curator emeritus of the Old Court House Museum. He is the author of several books and is a renowned historian.

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