December 22, 2011 —
By Bill Mullaly
Hudson area resident Tino Gutierrez just celebrated a golden anniversary and it was not for his marriage as he is several years beyond 50 where that matter is concerned. His recent special 50th edition was for his attendance at the annual Grand American Amateur Trap-Shooting Association event held this past August. Gutierrez was in Sparta, Illinois, the weekend of August 12-14th as part of the 11-day event for the Grand American Amateur event held August 8-18th. Gutierrez has been going to this event for many years but in 2011 it marked the 50th appearance for him at the prestigious annual event for trap shooters. “It is always a fun time and I still enjoy going but I don’t shoot as well as I used to because I don’t see as well,” joked Gutierrez during a recent interview at his home. There have been many times over the past 61 years that Gutierrez could not only see a bit better but he could also shoot a better than most anyone that he competed against. As the saying goes that “back in the day” he was one of the best in not only Michigan but across the country. The most recent award that Gutierrez was given was for his longevity for competing at a national level. For years the event was held down near Dayton, Ohio, in a community named Vandalia but in the last half of the current decade the event was switched to Sparta, Illinois. This past August Gutierrez was one of three men who were honored for 50 years of participating in the trap shooting national event. One of the other men was also from Michigan. “It is a national event but they come from other countries as well,” said Gutierrez, 75, who began shooting as a youngster back around 1950.
Gutierrez began this passion of his back as a teenager in the rural Hudson area when he would shoot for practice in a gravel pit area south of town. “I would find a place to practice back then and I still practice shooting even today,” said Gutierrez, who has no thought of giving up on his hobby. “I practice on my own property but in the winter I go up to the Hillsdale County Conservation Club to compete in a Sunday league that begins the week after the Super Bowl game.”
The highest honor that the local sharpshooter has won over the half-century of his competing was back in 1972. It was then that he won the Grand American Amateur Trap-Shooting Association’s double target championship. He won the Class A level of competition. He still proudly owns the trophy that he won for the national event almost four decades ago. “I got lucky,” said Gutierrez, who was referring to the day of August 26th back in the summer of 1972 in Vandalia. “I was able to win the shoot off competition when I was tied with another shooter. I hit 98 out of 100 targets and then in the shoot off I hit all 20. It was a great day.”
Gutierrez has also been a Michigan state champion winning the title in competition in Mason back in 1986. Perhaps, his best day of shooting came in 1988 at the Michigan Trapshooting Association event when he nailed 199 out of 200 targets. “I was on that day and it was something special,” said Gutierrez, who for over a half century has had the support of his loving wife, Carole, who is one of his biggest fans. “He loves doing this and I don’t think he will ever stop,” she said about her husband.
Gutierrez has had quite a career trap shooting and it has been a family affair for the veteran shooter who with his wife produced five children including four sons who all became trap shooters for a bit. There was Ron, Wayne, Rick and Jimmy who all competed but none took it as seriously or was as good as their father. The fifth and youngest child for Tino and Carole was a girl named Beth. Of the four sons it was Wayne who had the most success but nothing to rival his dad. “Wayne was the one who did the most trap shooting competitions,” said Ron, who was at the recent interview at his parent’s home on the eastern outskirts of Hudson. “All of us boys competed at some time or another and we all got together as a family and competed and that was a lot of fun and we did pretty well.” The 1996 Fall Team Shoot held in Michigan was won by the Gutierrez men who won the class B championship and they got a belt buckle for their accomplishment.
Tino doesn’t have many, if any, regrets about his trap shooting career but he does regret one thing and that was for not trying out for the 1968 Summer Olympics held in Mexico City, Mexico.”You know you have a job and a family with young kids and you just don’t think that’s the thing to do by taking off a week or two and trying for something like that but looking back who knows,” said Tino, who worked for close to 50 years at the local Rima Manufacturing Company. “I just at the time didn’t realize the significance of the opportunity of being invited to tryout. Yes, looking back I wish I had but, oh well.”
He has had quite a special career and still can knock down those orange targets on any given day but there was one day,, a few decades ago, that he was in a can’t miss mode when he hit 199 out of 200 including 100 straight at one time. “It was one of those days and the gun and I were hitting our targets,” said Tino, who giving some of the credit to his gun as he uses a Browning double barrel over-under shot gun.
Gutierrez still competes at the annual national event but now it is in Class B competition as his age and reflexes are not quite what they used to be but he is still pretty good with a gun in his hands. “I still love to shoot and I am a hunter as well,” said the elder Gutierrez, who noted a lack of pheasants when he was a youngster initially got him started with target shooting and that led to eventual competitions held in Lenawee County. As the saying goes, “the rest is history” in the long and successful career of Gutierrez and his trap shooting exploits.
“I won’t be giving it up until I can’t see and as long as I have the support of my wife why should I stop?” asked Gutierrez, who has never seen a target he didn’t think he could hit. “I’ve had a lot of fun and it is still fun.”