For senior living resident, trap shooting has lasting mark
Holland, Pennsylvania Tuesday September 24, 2019
When Lillian Niederer reflects on her record-setting decades in the sport of trapshooting, she is both honest and humble.
First, she will note that she came to the sport reluctantly, telling her husband, an enthusiast who encouraged her to give it a try, that she had no interest.
“My husband belonged to a club—just for men, of course—and one of the guys said maybe the wives might want to learn to shoot,” says the resident of Twining Village. “Then he told me they got 10 ladies interested and I still said it’s not for me. Finally he said, ‘I think you ought to be a sport and go.’ I figured that, to save my marriage,” she jokes, “I should go.”
Initially, she found trapshooting, a form of clay-target shooting, to be “just okay.” In fact, the first time she went to the club, she didn’t even take the right type of gun. In time though, something “bloomed,” she says. “I guess I was a natural.”
As it turns out, she was much more than that. From those early days in 1960, her skill indeed bloomed and led her to win the New Jersey State Ladies Champion title nine times. She continued to add to her list of state and national trophies and honors during more than 40 years, earning her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
“I competed all over,” Niederer says, including “the whole East Coast, Texas, Nevada, Minnesota and even Canada. I met so many good people from all over the country and made so many lasting relationships.”
When her husband passed away in 1974, her trapshooting friends encouraged her to keep going. And she did—well into her 80s.
“There’s a saying…you can shoot until you drop,” she says. “I only stopped because I can’t stand that long anymore.”
Though a reluctant trapshooting fan at first, Niederer became one of its biggest supporters. Her daughter, Patricia Wyvill, a recognized trapshooter in her own right, says she was known as someone who always encouraged others, especially young people new to the sport. In addition, she was elected to serve as the state delegate to represent New Jersey on a national level.
Something else made her stand out at trapshooting events.
“She designed and made her own shooting vests,” Wyvill explains. “She was always dressed ‘just so.’ First the vest with a skirt, then with slacks. Everyone would say, ‘That’s Lil, looking nice as ever.’ That’s just how she was.”
Now in her third year living at Twining Village in Holland, Pennsylvania, Niederer says she has made a number of new friends and even discovered that a girl who lived in her neighborhood when she was growing up is also a resident.
“There are very nice people here,” Niederer says. Then she adds, laughing, “Though I have not met any other trapshooters!”