As lightning slashed through a darkened sky in the distance, Dave Miller provided some fireworks of his own Saturday night at the Heartland Trap and Wobble Skeet shooting range in Harrisonville.
Firing a shotgun from the hip at a steady stream of blaze-orange clay targets, he steadily shattered most of them into pieces. Exactly an hour after he started his trapshooting exhibition, the mark was recognized by the Guinness World Records.
He broke 3,653 targets in 60 minutes — that’s one target every .82 of a second — in a shooting display that had several hundreds spectators and sponsors sitting in bleachers cheering.
Immediately afterward, Miller lifted his shotgun in triumph and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd. Then Alex Angert, an adjudicator from Guinness, who had traveled from New York to oversee the world-record attempt, stepped onto the shooting platform and made it official.
Miller was in the world book.
“This is awesome, but I am worn out,” said Miller, 41, project manager and pro shooter for CZ -USA guns. “Endurance is definitely a factor in something like this.
“At about the 40-minute mark, I was tired. I was hurting. But I got a shot of adrenaline and I kept going.
“I waited too long for this to let it get away.”
Actually, the quest started about a year ago when Miller, his girlfriend and her children were watching a television show featuring a Guinness World Records quest where someone was cracking coconuts with his elbow.
“Will, my girlfriend’s 9-year-old son, turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t you try to set a world record for breaking targets with your shotgun?’ ” said Miller, who lives in Grain Valley. “We kicked that idea around and decided to approach Guinness with it.
“We settled on a difficult, yet attainable, world record — breaking 3,000 targets in an hour.”
Though there are other shooting records recognized by Guinness, Angert said this was the first of this type. He was impressed with the speed and accuracy at which Miller shot. Now others will be chasing Miller’s mark.
For Angert, it was just another day in an interesting life. Lately, he has certified world records for the largest gathering of people dressed like Madonna, the most pounds of pudding eaten in three minutes, and the oldest active polo player.
“It’s all about ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” he said.
Miller accomplished an extraordinary feat Saturday night. He couldn’t have done it without a large team of helpers and an orchestrated effort. He used 30 CZ shotguns and 24 volunteers shell loaders.
The semiautomatic shotguns were modified to hold 16 shells. Once he emptied one gun, he was handed another loaded one and he kept shooting. Once that gun was emptied, it was handed to a volunteer who went through and loaded the shotguns again. An assembly line of loaders stood in line and waited to hand a ready-to-go gun to one of Miller’s helpers on the shooting platform.
The quest started in threatening conditions and ended in a steady rain. But Miller said the weather didn’t affect his focus.
“Actually, it was cool shooting with that lightning in the background,” he said. “The weather didn’t bother me at all.
“Endurance was the big thing. At about the 40-minute mark, I was tired. I was hurting.
“But I got a shot of adrenaline. I had waited too long for this to let it get away.”
Miller’s world record also paid big for charity. Chapters of Pheasants Forever, a national conservation group, collected pledges on Miller’s performance. By the time it was over, they had raised $80,000 for the organization’s youth programs.
That only added to the excitement of the night for Miller.
“This was an awesome night,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”