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High school trapshooters take part in ‘Best in the West’ trapshoot

Kim Fundingsland/MDN The grounds were packed with spectators and shooters at the Minot Gun Club for a high school trapshoot last Saturday. High school trapshooting is the fastest growing activity of any high school sport in the United States.

Quite a sight. High school trapshooters and their supporters packed the Minot Gun Club last Saturday for the “Best in the West” trapshoot. Despite strong winds that had clay targets bouncing up and down, young shotgunners proved to be up to the challenge.

Twenty-two thousand five hundred clay targets were thrown with 14 high school teams competing in what has become the fastest growing sport in the country.

“It fun to see this place loaded up. This is bigger than a lot of registered shoots,” said Matt Monson, Minot Gun Club president. “There’s not just one kid out here and one parent. These are all families. It’s mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles.”

“What I like about this is that these kids don’t have to be a super athlete,” said Greg Vagge, Minot Gun Club. “There’s a place for them out here whether boys or girls, five foot or six-five, it doesn’t matter. That’s what means the most to me.”

A total of 225 shooters participated in the event, each shooting 100 rounds. Two young shooters, Scott Klabo of Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood and Connor Johnson of South Prairie shot even more. The two marksmen tied with top scores of 98/100 and were called back to the line for a shoot-off where a large crowd gathered behind them. When the last target was dusted Klabo emerged as the overall champion.

The shoot was held despite school having been dismissed months ago due to coronavirus. However, the outdoor activity fit well with social distancing guidelines and shooters were eager to stay sharp have the opportunity to compete in a signature event.

“As crazy as 2020 has been for these kids, to have some normality to end the year with a trapshoot is great,” said Wayne Stanley, South Prairie High School. “When you start throwing 23,000 birds in a day, it’s a pretty good day. It’s a neat event to have and it continues to get bigger and bigger each year.”

The “Best in the West” shoot was the third annual sponsored by Scheels. There was a bit of extra energy being shown at the shooting line this past Saturday, particularly since regular season competition was wiped out by coronavirus.

“A lot of people were shaking their heads, saying they didn’t think this sport would catch on,” said Stanley. “We had 69 kids shoot league for us this year, up from 18 five years ago when we first started. It is the most popular sport in our school system.”

Trapshooting is not just for boys either. More and more girls are finding their way to the shooting line each year and breaking clay targets with regularity. Saturday’s top female shooter, Jenna Thompson of Mandan, broke 95/100 targets in posting the fourth best overall score of the day in becoming the girl’s champion.

“This is the Best in the West. Now Bismarck is going to hold one August 22nd and run it like a state shoot, based on averages,” remarked Stanley. “Here we have the top 10 individuals, top three teams, top male, top female and top overall shooter. There’s been a lot of good shooting going on in tough conditions.”

Team totals:

1 – South Prairie 468

2 – Rugby 450

3 – Bismarck Legacy 449

4 – Mandan 444

5 – Berthold 433

6 – Beulah 433

7 – Williston 430

8 – MLS 428

9 – Bismarck 426

10 – Des Lacs-Burlington 413

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