Scripture calmly takes care of business and then heads for his red pickup truck. "You think the damned baseball players are crazy," he says with a grin, "you oughta see some of these people!"
Another shooter, who has just come from the scoreboard, watches with admiration as Scripture hops into the truck. Scripture is the winner of that afternoon's 50 pairs doubles, an event in which the shooter fires at pairs of targets released simultaneously in different directions. His score: 99 out of 100. "Earl put the hurt on 'em, didn't he? Ninety-nine, that's damn good shooting."
The next afternoon, Scripture competes in the daylong singles championship—200 targets at 16 yards on eight different fields. The gun club's layout and ambience are that of a golf driving range, except that these shooting sticks are made by Perazzi and Ljutic and cost $3,000 to $4,000 each. Expensive campers and RVs crowd the gravel lot behind the firing line.
"There's no poor people in this game," Scripture explains, cruising in a golf cart behind the shooters. "You have to have a lot of money and freedom to pursue it. Otherwise, you're just a local club shooter."
Scripture is no local club shooter. His Amateur Trapshooting Association classification is the highest, AA-27-AA. The double A's mean he averages at least 97X100 in singles competition and 93X100 in doubles: the 27 means he shoots from 27 yards, the longest distance, in handicap events. From 1981 to 1983, during a sabbatical from baseball, Scripture won four Virginia state championships—two singles and two all-arounds. (He took the 1982 singles trophy with a perfect 200X200.)
It's difficult to translate these scores into dollars. Unlike professional golfers, serious trapshooters put up their own money for tournament prizes in a complicated wagering system. There is no official earnings list, and it's anybody's guess who is making how much.
"I don't like to talk about the money," Scripture says. "You alarm some people and tick others off. I'll say this: The average shooter, if he takes a leave of absence from his job to try this full-time, he'll be back in 30 days. Very few people can truthfully say they make a living shooting. There's a handful of men making very good money, maybe 9 or 10."
Is Scripture one of them?
He pulls his hat down over his eyes. "I ain't sayin'."
He does not hesitate, however, when asked whether he was better at baseball or shooting. "Much better shooter. Baseball was hard for me. I had some good college years and all that, some All-America years that don't amount to a hill of beans. But I had very limited ability. I was proud I got as much out of my ability as I did." Shooting came easier to Scripture, who grew up on a South Carolina tobacco farm surrounded by woods and game. "My dad could shoot, and he taught me most of what I know."