High school trapshooting participants, programs continue to increase

High school shooters, programs increase

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Nedrose trapshooting coaches Bob Kraus, left, and Robert Jacob Meagher, right, check on scores of a squad during a practice session at the Minot Gun Club. Looking on is team member Eli Jacob Meagher, 7th grade.

It is a sport that is flying high. The proof of high school trapshooting’s rapid takeoff in North Dakota can be found at shooting ranges throughout the state. The impact of high school trapshooting at the Minot Gun Club has been nothing less than astounding.

Area trapshooting teams comprised of students from grades 6-12 have been stepping to the line at the Minot Gun Club in ever increasing numbers. So much so that the club located north of the city is in midst of an expansion in order to accommodate the remarkable growth of the sport. Six new traphouses are being installed.

“It’s been great for our club,” said Matt Monson, Minot Gun Club president. “We have a lot of new members, a lot of families coming out to give it a try.”

The increased interest in trapshooting at the Minot Gun Club is a natural side effect of the growth of high school trapshooting, in which the number of programs and participants continues to expand. Nowhere has that been more evident than at South Prairie school located a few miles south of Minot.

“Four year ago we were sitting with 18 shooters. This year it is 58,” said Wayne Stanley, superintendent and trapshooting coach at South Prairie. “It’s definitely booming. It is the fastest growing sport out there.”

Kim Fundingsland/MDN The growing popularity of high school trapshooting is evident in this view of the shooting line at the Minot Gun Club. Several area teams comprised of about 250 shooters utilize the facility north of Minot.

The young program at South Prairie has already produced some excellent shooters. Last year two South Prairie competitors made it to the finals at the high school national competition held at Lansing, Mich. One of them, Dawson Ness, then a sophomore, broke 100 straight targets against a field of 1,400 shooters. As a team, South Prairie was a single clay target away from first place at last year’s state shoot.

“This year we’ve got 16 sixth-graders shooting,” said Stanley.

Both boys and girls are welcome to compete. Many, Stanley said, routinely break 21 to 23 clay targets per round. A round consists of 25 clays, five each shot from different positions on the shooting line.

New school teams in the area this year include Minot High, Glenburn and Velva. Statewide this spring there are 63 schools participating. One of them is Nedrose where trapshooting has been enthusiastically received by students of all ages.

“It’s growing fast. The numbers just keep getting more and more,” said Bob Kraus, Nedrose coach. “This year is the most first year students we’ve had with 10.”

Nedrose is among several area schools that practice late Sunday afternoon at the Minot Gun Club. Other schools are assigned to Monday and Thursday practice sessions. In all, an estimated 250 youth shooters are currently participating and the numbers continue to climb.

Competition against trapshooting teams from other schools in the state begins April 21. All scores are shot on home shooting ranges and submitted by computer to compare against other teams on the schedule. The state tournament is scheduled for June 15-17 at the Shooting Park in Horace, which is located a few miles south of Fargo.

The growth of high school trapshooting in North Dakota has been nothing less than phenomenal, from four schools and a mere handful of shooters a few years ago to 63 schools fielding squads of trapshooters this spring. The total number of shooters was most recently tabulated at 1,696, more than 1,200 of which are expected to attend this year’s state shoot.

“The more we can grow the sport, the better,” said Stanley.

High school trapshooting got its beginnings in Minnesota with the High School Clay Target League in 2007-08. Interest quickly reached the point where demand resulted in the creation of the USA High School Clay Target League in 2012. In 2018 there were over 26,000 youth shooters on 804 teams from 20 states, making it the fastest-growing high school extracurricular activity in the nation. This spring the increase continued as high schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, North Carolina and Wyoming upped state representation to 25 and further increased the number of overall participants.

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