Gene was born in Moonachie, New jersey in 1936. At the age of two, his parents moved down to Yellow Brook Road in Farmingdale. Gene still resides in the family homestead. Back in the day, it was a working farm with corn, various vegetables, and chickens. Growing up on the farm with his brother, Hans, Gene was very familiar with all the mechanics of the tractors and associated machinery. Gene attended Howell Township Public School and graduated from Freehold High School.
While growing up Gene soon was out hunting with his brother and Dad. In order to get proficient with the shotgun he and his friends were buying clay pigeons from the local sport shop, with the aid of the hand thrower they were easily breaking targets. Gene told me, that because of the cost of components, targets and cash being a scarce commodity, he and his friends would reload a box of shells and shoot 12 shells on one Saturday and the remaining 13 on the next Saturday!
In 1954, at the age of 18, the desire of Gene and all his hunting and shooting friends led to the establishment of the farmingdale Gun Clubm on some vacant land, where now resides The Eagles Golf Course on Cranberry Rd in the Boro of Farmingdale. Back in those days you just went out and did things, and basically “squatted” on the land. A trap house was erected and the people came and enjoyed the sport of trapshooting. The club prospered over the years and eventually three traps were erected.
After graduating high school, Gene had experience working on the farm equipment and soon started working for a local non-union excavator, where he learned to operate larger excavating equipment. Gene was able to get into Local #825 of the Operating Engineers. He was soon traveling for work up and down the coast of New Jersey and working in five counties of New York State, NYC, Maryland and Connecticut.
During the establishment and the growing of the Farmingdale Gun Club at the old location, Gene ws buying all his components and targets locally from the sport shop in town. Gene was told of a fellow in Vineland, Lou Pagluighi, the father of Bob Pugluighi, who eventually established Robert’s Shell and at one time was the biggest supplier of targets, ammo and components i the state. Anyway, Gene started buying components, shells, guns and targets at wholesale prices and then started his own business, working out of a garage behind his house.
In 1966, burglars broke into the business at night and stole some guns and started a fire to cover up the break in, which destroyed the entire wooden structure. Gene was able to rebuild and a larger cements block structure was erected.
In 1967, Gene married his late wife Jenny; they had two children, Eugene, Jr. and a daughter, Hope. The children, when they become old enough would work, Junior setting targets and, Hope pulling for the shooters. Hope still helps out her Dad pulling, during the registered shoots held at the club.
In 1968, Gene relocated the three traps to the family owned property and the Howell Trap Club was established, no more “squatting” on someone else’s property! Besides running the Trap Club, working as an operating engineer, running the store, Gene would make deliveries throughout the state with his red Ford 1-Ton pickup truck with a tarp covering all the supplies. Some of his clients were Roger Taylor up in Smoke Rise, North Jersey Gun Club in Fairfield, the Winchester range in Englishtown, Grouse Ridge out past clinton and Pam Olsen’s Old Mill in Secaucus. Gene was a busy guy, that’s not counting him getting out to the different registered shoots.
Gene’s first registered targets were at the Westy Hogans, on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. It was a 50 target event on Friday, a preliminary day back then, he was squadded with Toots Randall, one of the premier lady shooters at the time here in the GardenState. Gene was shooting a Remington Model 58 automatic with a cylinder choke! He broke a 42×50. What Gene was impressed most by was the way Toots was smashing her targets with her Winchester Model 12.
Gene’s first trip out to the Grand American in Vandalia Ohio was in 1965, Gene broke a 195 on Monday of Grand week and on Wednesday’s Clay Target Championship, Gene broke a 198 and was tired for third place in Class B, needless to say, Gene lost the shoot off. Gene returned in 1966 with his shooting buddy, Hans Barkalow. Gene was victorious and secured third place. Back then Federation Ammunition would give out a 6-8 inch oval patch with your name and score during the event you won. Gene mounted the patch on his shooting vest which was lost in the fire at his business.
At the Grand in 2004, Gene shot a 199 in the White Flyer Championships, he secured third place after a 100 target shoot off. in 2007, Gene again broke a 199 to win Class B after a 25 bird shoot off. In 2009, Gene won Senior vet with a 98 in one of the handicaps. In 2011 at the Ohio State Shoot in Marengo Gene won a Senior vet trophy in each of the two handicap events that day.
Gene has competed and won a class singles trophy at the New York Athletic Club shoot at Travers Island. Gene has competed and won trophies in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennyslvania and New Jersey.
So far Gene has registered 116,925 singles, 74,875 handicap and 38,950 doubles targets.