The photo illustration above shows the set-up for a high-school shooting event.

Trap shooting

Skiing, tennis, golf…shooting?

Trap shooting has become a varsity sport in Minnesota; will Minnehaha join the league?

It is late afternoon and the wind is blowing through the tall grass. The sun is bright and the gun is warm. “Pull.” The orange clay pigeon is released, the gun is aimed and fired. Orange shrapnel flies everywhere. The echo is heard over the field as the bullet leaves the gun. Wind blows on the shooters face as their gun kicks into their shoulder. This experience, foreign to many, is a common experience for some teenagers in Minnesota.

The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League (MSHSCTL) was created in 2009, but at the time there were very few participants. But it has grown fast, in 2014 there are 185 teams, 275 schools and 6,100 athletes for the spring competition. They must all have school permission, at least five students that have a state firearm safety training certificate, a coach and a place to practice.  Starting this year the Minnesota State High School League(MSHSL) has partnered with MSHSCTL. Together they will organize the State Clay Target tournament.

“I think it’s getting a little popular here,” sacred studies teacher David Elliott said, “Which makes sense, we’re such a sportsman state.”

The senior leadership at Minnehaha Academy has requested for M.A. to join and get a trap shooting team. M.A. is putting a lot of thought into this. The group would start out as a club and then about two years later it would be made into an official sport, if there are enough people. Participants wouldn’t be able to letter unless it becomes a varsity sport. With the different opinions about guns, trap shooting often gets more consideration than other sports.

Homar Ramirez director of athletic and facility operations said, “My hope is that Minnehaha has a club or team participating in a year”

Some of the things that have to be considered when making a new team are: transportation, costs, where the team would practice, uniforms, if any and so on. In the beginning, the costs would be covered by the participants. The team would also be a coed team.

Unlike other sports, there is one other huge issue. Guns. Minnehaha Academy would have to figure out a way for the participants to transport their gun to practice. Also, each participant would have to own his or her own gun and must have gun safety training first. With the whole gun controversy, participants must have experience shooting and holding a gun. Ramirez has found a range in South St. Paul for an M.A. team to practice at. This sport would be a fall or spring sport and would follow MSHSCTL regulations.

Abby Gillmer, shown here on a goose hunt, looks forward to the possibility of Minnehaha having a coed, trap shooting team.
Abby Gillmer, shown here on a goose hunt, looks forward to the possibility of Minnehaha having a coed, trap shooting team.

Elliott was in a rifle club when he was in middle school. He said that one reason he liked the team was because it got him ready for when he hunted in the winter. He remembers when he had friends over and they used to go to the train tracks, line up bottles and shoot them.

“It was fun to hang out, with guns and shoot,” Elliott said.

“I love hunting and shooting,” said freshman Abby Gillmer.“I just like guns but I also like that it’s something that women have started to do, and it gives us power.”

Junior Gunnar Nelson said he likes shooting because of  “the power of the gun.”            

Dan Bergstrom, the chaplain and sacred studies teacher, expects this sport to grow in popularity, beginning with a committed group. He also says that he thinks it is an important skill to know. He said that by shooting he learned respect not only for the gun but also for the animals he hunts. Bergstrom believes the main reason that people don’t hunt and practice shooting anymore is busy schedules.

“It’s not just the shooting of an animal, it’s the whole idea of being out in creation, listening, smelling, looking,” said Bergstrom, “it’s also therapeutic.” As soon as next year, students may have the opportunity to share this passion as part of a clay target shooting team.

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About Danielle Pattison

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