Associated Press
For the past nine years, Zella Corder has been perfecting the art of swinging a shotgun while bound in a wheelchair.
I was a terrible tomboy," she said. "I wanted to do all the things my brothers did.

POCATELLO, Idaho — Every trap and skeet shooter knows the position of your feet is critical for accurate hits on fleeting clay targets — except Zella Corder, of Soda Springs. She knows it's all in the wheels.

For the past nine years, Corder has been perfecting the art of accurately swinging a shotgun and pulling the trigger despite the fact her mode of moving is a wheelchair.

"I don't have a lot of twist in my body, so I must set the chair just right," Corder explains.

Draped across her paralyzed legs is a full beaver pelt, a gift from a friend who knew she struggled to stay warm during shooting events like the annual Christmas Turkey Shoot held Dec. 17 at the Pocatello Trap Club. It was a sunny day with little or no wind, but the temperature hovered below freezing as Corder wheeled her way to a shooting station.

On this round, she hit more air than clay and she muttered some expletives to the shooting gods after breaking open the breach of her customized Krieger Trap Special 12-gauge and ejecting a spent casing.

"I thought this was going to be real tough," she said about her first experiences at shooting clays after being paralyzed in a traffic accident north of Soda Springs. That was nine years ago and misses now are just part of the sport.

Corder was the passenger in a pickup truck when it collided nearly head-on with a car that had crossed the center line.

"I wasn't wearing my seat belt because I had just taken it off to reach into the back to get my lunch bag," Corder said. "The impact threw me out of the vehicle which turned out to be lucky because that side of the truck was completely demolished."

The accident did leave her without the use of her legs. But it didn't leave her without a desire to continue to enjoy all the activities she had learned to do — outdoor activities like shooting. Corder grew up on a ranch, the only girl in a family of brothers.

"I was a terrible tomboy," she said. "I wanted to do all the things my brothers did." She lucked out when she married her husband, Randy Corder. He taught her to shoot. "One of the first gifts he bought me was a .22 rifle," she said. From then on hunting with her husband became second nature.

Zella had shot trap and skeet for more than 20 years before the accident robbed her of her ability to walk. But it didn't rob her of her desire to shoot.

"I've never been to a class where they coach handicapped people how to shoot," she said. "But my husband's a great coach."

Once she learned the trick of positioning her wheelchair in the right spot, accuracy followed and she and Randy have been involved in competitive trap shooting ever since. Their enthusiasm for the sport was infectious and Zella convinced a friend and transplant from Oklahoma , Bridgett Cagle to join in the fun.

"I've been trap shooting for five years now," Cagle said. "I'm really not as good a shot as she is," she said about her friend Zella. "She's my mentor."

Cagle opts for a lighter gun than her friend in the wheelchair. She likes to shoot a Benelli auto 12 because it only weighs seven and one-half pounds.

"It's easier to handle," she said.

The turkey shoot drew a mixed crowd of men, women and youngsters to the range near the Pocatello Airport. They were shooting for hams, turkeys and a new goal: surf and turf.

Shooters competing for the surf and turf were trying to win prime rib roasts and lobsters.

More than 100 shooters showed up to try their luck. Debbie Ferrel, a member of the Pocatello Trap Club Board of Directors, was busy handing out tickets and managing scores as gunners on the range fired at clays.

"We've been doing this every Thanksgiving and Christmas for a long time," Ferrel said. "But we're seeing a lot of new faces out here."

Among them were Stan Cope and his son, Kaleb, of American Falls. It was their first time at the trap club and their success was limited.

"The first round we only hit one of 10," he said. "The second time, we hit five of 10 so we are getting better."

According to Ferrel, the trap range is the place to improve. Shooters complete in four or five rounds of shooting 25 times. Top shots start breaking 90 to 95 of their 100 targets consistently.

Zella Corder is among them. She and Randy have competed in the Idaho Governor's Cup Match four times. It is held in either Coeur d'Alene or Sun Valley each summer and raises funds for schools in Idaho. Zella was a member of the Idaho State Trap Team in both 2007 and 2009.

"I can still shoot and enjoy my family," she said. "I feel pretty lucky."