Booming sport for high school shooters

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2011 - 1:10 AM

Trap and skeet shooting is a fast-growing sport at Minnesota high schools.

hide

Eric Hagelee, an Edina 10th-grader, fired his shotgun at a clay target during a shoot last week at the Minneapolis Gun Club. Waiting his turn, behind, is Andrew Brandt, a ninth-grader.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Maggie Horan craddled her 20-gauge shotgun, took aim at the orange clay target that flew through the air, and squeezed the trigger.

Bam! The disk exploded. Maggie, 14, of Edina, smiled.

"It's a lot different than dance," the ninth-grade ballet dancer said after she broke 12 of 25 clay targets while shooting trap last week at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake. Her 30-member Edina Trap and Skeet Team -- formed this year -- recently began its first season of competition, joining 28 other Minnesota schools.

Maggie is a newcomer to shotgunning, but a quick study.

"That's one of my best rounds," she said. "It's fun."

While many Minnesota high schools have been forced to slash programs and boost fees in the face of serious budget woes, the fledgling Minnesota State High School Clay Target League is, well, booming. Maggie's team is one of 16 new squads this year. Last year, 243 students at 13 schools competed.

"This year, we have 29 schools and more than 700 students," said Jim Sable, the league director. He expects participation to double next year.

"We're probably the fastest growing sport in the state," said Sable, 72, of Plymouth, a firearms safety instructor, shooter and tireless shooting sports advocate. Concerned about an aging population at gun ranges, he launched the league 10 years ago.

The recent growth is more remarkable considering the percentage of young hunters and anglers nationwide has been declining -- a trend blamed on urbanization and competition for leisure time with computers, televisions and other electronics.

Said Sable: "We have three priorities: No. 1 is safety. No. 2 is fun. And No. 3 is marksmanship."

Sport is exploding

The league is flourishing for several reasons, he said:

• Social media has boosted interest. "The kids who shoot communicate with one another on Facebook, and pretty soon more kids want to get in."

• Shooting is a "gender neutral" sport. Girls shoot alongside boys. Normally, if a school adds a boys' sport, it has to add a girls' sport for balance. "That's not an issue with trapshooting," Sable said. Last year, a girl, KayCee Nelson of White Bear Lake, was the top high school trapshooter in the state, breaking 100 out of 100 clays at the state championship.

• It doesn't cost schools money. "The kids pay for it," Sable said. Some conservation, civic and sports groups help pay the costs in some communities.

• Physical abilities aren't essential. "They don't have to be athletic to become good shooters," Sable said.

For now, shooting is considered a club sport and isn't part of the Minnesota State High School League. But students can earn letters, just as they do with other sports. The 10-week season began recently. Except at the state meet, students don't compete face-to-face -- they shoot weekly with their teams and their scores are recorded. Youths in grades six to 12 can compete; all must first complete firearms safety training.

Snowball effect

Scott Danielson, 48, an avid hunter and shooter, lives in Edina. When he heard about the clay target league, he volunteered to form a team and coach it. His two sons -- Ryan, a 10th-grader, and Eric, an eighth-grader -- signed up.

"My kids love to hunt and shoot, and I thought what a great idea. I wanted kids to have the opportunity to learn shooting sports. And it gets them outside -- away from the computer. I figured if we got a dozen kids, that would be great."

Instead, Danielson had to limit the roster to 30. "We have a waiting list," he said.

Kids each pay $240, which includes shotgun shells, clay targets, association fees and a T-shirt. "It's one of the cheapest sports they can participate in," Danielson said.

For Maggie Horan, it's a new and unique experience.

"My mom saw a flier [on the league] and pushed me to try it," she said. "I'm glad she did."

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Minnesota State High School Clay Target League information

    Tuesday May 3, 2011

    For more information on the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, see www.mnclaytarget.com or call Jim Sable at 763-559-4940.

  • One rural area helps young shooters

    Tuesday May 3, 2011

    Schools at McGregor, Aitkin and Cromwell formed one 36-member trap-shooting team this year and joined the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League. But organizers soon encountered a problem.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close