Rodrigo Meirelles, Johnny Pellielo, Pino Facchini
On September 24th my friend Signor Pino Facchini, who you already have been introduced to, called to see if I was available to join him in a visit to Johnny.
He picked me outside of my office in Torino and it took us about an hour to drive the 50 miles to the town of Vercelli, in an East-Northeast direction, and then we arrived at Tiro a Volo San Giovanni di Vercelli.
Upon entering the club house I was introduced to several people, including Giovanni “Johnny” Pellielo, a quiet and polite gentleman of about my age, accomplished shotgunner, three times Olympic medalist (Bronze at Sydney 2000, Silver at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008), ISSF International Trap World Champion, top contender for the London 2012 Summer Olympics and local hero.
I bought a flat of 12 gauge shells and when I opened it I was surprised to see the off white boxes with the TAV San Giovanni crest on top of “WORLD CHAMPION JP 28 by FIOCCHI” written in gold letters. This is a 28 grams (roughly one ounce) load designed by Johnny and loaded for him and his gun club.
We talked a little bit and soon I had the opportunity to shoot in the same squad as Johnny. It is impressive the change from the laidback Johnny from the club house to the focused athlete at the trap line.
Hat and ear muffs in place, 50 shells in vest’s pockets, and Johnny tears the flaps of the boxes and uses the ear muffs to hold them as screens to prevent distractions. He steps to the station, mounts the gun and the world becomes one single clay pigeon. And as a rule he breaks them on the first barrel, taking the second shot at a piece that follows the original trajectory to better use the barrels swing.
The same gun mounting is repeated at each station, twenty five times.
Many of the visiting shooters are at TAV San Giovanni to watch the Olympian and learn from him. Some take pictures, others make short movies. But in the best sportive spirit, Johnny takes time to coach young shooters, be polite to visitors and play practical jokes at his friends.
As it was to be expected, Johnny’s Beretta stock is custom made to exact dimensions, but during the afternoon he did several adjustments to cast and drop, simply by loosening the stock main bolt and inserting or removing small pieces of business cards from certain strategic points.
At the end of a most entertaining evening we had the opportunity to talk a bit more, using my bad Italian and his good English. Shooting and hunting were the topics. He is even considering spending his birthday hunting ducks in Arkansas with us in early January.
And as we were leaving Johnny presented Pino and me with signed T-shirts from TAV San Giovanni.
We drove back to Torino and Pino took me for a fantastic mixed grill dinner at Le Gru in Grugliasco, when the very cold Birra Rossi quenched our thirst from a very hot afternoon.