Trap shooting may become school sportPublished 11:02am Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Though they admit the timing is unfortunate, members of the Lakes Area Shooting Center are looking for Fergus Falls School Board approval to create a high school trap shooting team this spring.
The board will consider approving the team Feb. 26.
The team would compete with 33 gun clubs representing 100 schools across Minnesota. Trap shooting has been a high school sport since 2001, and has grown to 1,700 participants, said Lakes Area Shooting Center member Russ Larsen.
Larsen also noted that of the 100 teams last year, 76 are expecting more members than last year, and that 120 new schools — including Ashby and Perham/New York Mills — made inquiries about the league.
“It has been fantasticly successful,” Larsen said. “It appeals to a lot of kids who don’t participate in the traditional sports.”
The team, which would be coached by co-coaches Ranae and Mike Edwards, would be limited to 20 students due to a requirement from the Minnesota Clay Target League that limits 10 students per coach.
The 10-week season would begin in April, starting with two weeks of practice, a six-week season, and culminating in a statewide shoot-off in Alexandria the first week of June, followed by a state championship held in the Twin Cities that has been endorsed by the Minnesota State High School League board.
“This is something they could participate in and form new friendships with kids from their own school and other schools,” Lakes Area Shooting Center member David Weiss said.
It did not escape neither school board nor shooting center members that they were trying to create a high school shooting team at a time when gun control is in the national spotlight due to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“As a mom, it makes me nervous, but I could see the kids really enjoying it,” School Board member Tarma Carlson said.
Larsen and Weiss said the club would not allow participants to carry their guns in their vehicles. “Kids should go home, pick up their guns and come to the club,” Weiss said. Ammunition will be stored at the club.
Larsen also pointed out that, since trap shooting became a high school sport in 2001, there have been zero reported injuries or violations of school gun policies among participants.
“That’s just a great record, Larsen said. “The primary emphasis is just safety, safety, safety.”
Students who participate are required to have received their State Firearms Safety Certificate. While Weiss said he expects most students to have their own guns, shooting center members would be willing to loan guns to students who If situation come about because no gun in family, there are enough of us in the club to have an extra gun to loan them to use.
Athletic director Gary Schuler said trap shooting would be considered an independent provider, similar to alpine skiing, nordic skiing, figure skating, dance and adaptive bowling. He pointed out that high school coaches voted 10-1 in favor of approving the sport.
The only concern, he said, is that athletes are not leaving practices or events in other sports to go to trap shooting practice.
“If this is an opportunity for an athlete to earn a letter in a sport that wouldn’t otherwise, that’s a great thing,” Schuler said.
Superintendent Jerry Ness said one concern was the proposed Wednesday evening practices, which would interfere with church schedules. Weiss said while Wednesdays are ideal since shooting center members meet that night, they could certainly accommodate a different day.
The Lakes Area Shooting Center, Pheasants Forever, and the Fish and Game Club has already donated funds for shotgun shells and targets, meaning participating students would pay only the district’s $40 activity fee and $20 for the shooting center’s registration and insurance policy.
Ranae Edwards said she is excited about the possibilities for the co-ed sport, and believes that she can teach participants a skill they can use for a lifetime.
“The first time hit that clay target, the excitement goes on for five minutes,” said Edwards, who has taught more than 500 students to shoot through 4-H.
Once approved, student partcipants would have to be registered by March 15.