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Robertson golden with shotgun
By Craig Lamb and Steve Bowman
ESPN Great Outdoor Games staff

RENO, Nev. — The old adage "it's not over till it's over" held true at the Shotgun Event of the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, with six tie breakers needed to determine the gold medalist.

Scott Robertson
Scott Robertson held off the young-blood competition to take gold Friday.
At 11 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday night the final target was dusted with Scott Robertson taking the gold medal over Brett Dorak, at 17 years old, one of two young guns in the medal round. The bronze medal went to Robbie Purser, last year's gold medalist who outscored Travis Mears, another 17-year-old shooter.

"I wondered if he was ever going to miss," said Robertson of Dorak. "These young bloods are the future of the sport and it was a real kick to go against a talent like Brett."

The kick, though, almost came with Dorak, who came within one shot to kicking one of the veterans of shotgun sports straight off the gold medal podium. In the 28 rounds of head-to-head competition there were only four perfect matches leading up to the medal round. Dorak, competing in his first Great Outdoor Games, claimed two of them.

"He's one of the most fluid shooters I've ever seen,'' said Sheri Lagate, ESPN analyst. "His reloading speed is uncanny for a shooter of his age and experience."

Dorak was so smooth that he whipped the crowd of more than 1,500 into a cheering frenzy each time he took the stand to challenge Robertson. In fact, the enthusiasm reached a crescendo when the crowd began counting off the targets as they were shattered one by one by Dorak. The counting went on until the 59th target, the one that would have ended the contest and given the gold away to Dorak.

"That was killer,'' Dorak said.

The near miss sent the barrel-to-barrel shootout into the tie-breaking rounds, with both shooters matching each other's scores.

A round consists of 20 clay targets each for two shooters. Within that round, they alternate shooting at five targets each. The targets are released 3.5 seconds apart. A competitor may have no more than two shells in the shotgun. The targets are released from three machines spaced evenly in an 85-foot line. In each competitor's five targets, two will be "rabbits" — targets rolling and bouncing along the ground — and three will be "teal" — targets thrown relatively straight up in the air.

As in any type of shotgun competition, whether skeet or trap or sporting clays, the obvious key to winning is don't miss. But in this event you are allowed to shoot at each target as many times as you are able. Being able to reload quickly gives you an edge.

It became critical in the late rounds as the time was shaved off between the releasing of the targets.

As the tiebreakers progressed, the time between releases of the clay targets grew shorter. In the final rounds, the targets were released at an eye-blinking rate of 2.5 seconds apiece.

As the unnerving series wore down, Robertson had to reassure himself that he could prevail.

"I had to keep telling myself not to mess up, although there wasn't much time to think," he said. "I'd come so far that it wasn't worth it to lose it all at that point."

Final Results — Shotgun

1. Scott Robertson Flower Mound, Texas
2. Brett Dorak Sobieski, Wis.
3. Robbie Purser Macon, Ga.
4. Travis Mears Burleson, Texas
5. Justin Huckabay Kingsland, Texas
6. Tre Sides Montgomery, Ala.
7. Albert Bogetti Vernalis, Calif.
8. Jeff Vick Northport, Ala.
9. Jamie Riggs Franklin, Tenn.
10. Bobby Fowler Jr. Houston, Texas
11. Richard Aitken Colorado Springs, Colo.
12. Kraig Magnussen Modesto, Calif.
13. Doug Koenig Alburtis, Pa.
14. Jackie Caudle Gadsden, Ala.
14. Jim Crouse Reno, Nev.
14. David McHugh Lakeville, Conn.