Cameron Ziarko was introduced to shooting sports through his friends at the National Wild Turkey Federation when he was just 8 years old.
“And I fell in love with it. I wanted to shoot every single day,” said Ziarko, now a junior on the reigning conference champion Scales Mound High School Trap Team in northwestern Illinois.
Ziarko, the state’s top trap shooter in 2018, talked about his love of the outdoors, the League’s impact on his community, and passing the torch to the next generation.
PullUSA: Were you a really good trap shooter right away? Cameron Ziarko: My adviser asked if I’d be interested in trying trap shooting—and it was a learning curve. I went out to my first meet after maybe one practice, and my average at that time was probably 10. But my dad and I wanted to take it to the next level.
PullUSA: Is the team pretty popular at school?
Ziarko: We have 60 kids in our entire high school. There are 13 kids in my class and 12 on the team. This year, we’ve introduced four or five new members. More people are striking an interest and saying, ‘Oh, this is really cool.’ With such a small school, we co-op for every sport except for basketball. So for us to have our own sport is a pretty cool thing. When I took state and we took conference, we had a private parade around town congratulating us.
PullUSA: How was the National Championship?
Ziarko: It was really fun. When you’re with a traditional sports team and you travel, you don’t really do fun stuff. You go back
to the hotel and get ready for the next day. Well, not us. We went go-karting, mini-golfing, played laser tag and did other fun stuff. It wasn’t like we were there to shoot and shoot only. Let’s have fun while we’re here to shoot.
PullUSA: Are the outdoors important to you? Ziarko: I love it. I just suck in all the nature. It just makes me feel great. When I’m not shooting, I’m fishing. I fish almost every day. And the people who introduced me to turkey hunting, I’m actually mentoring for them tomorrow for another kid who’s about 8 years old. I’m ecstatic right now. I’m getting my gear ready. I’m ready to rock and roll.