The fastest-growing high school sport in this part of Wisconsin is trap shooting, now in its fifth year as a school-sanctioned high school sport, but it currently not part of WIAA. Grantsburg and some other area teams are in their third year.
Trap shooting a new spring sport with numbers climbing every year, both in participants per team and number of schools starting a team.
Editor’s note: Today’s story introduces readers to the high school sport of trap shooting. Tomorrow’s second and final installment will go into more depth about teams in our area.
In more urban parts of Wisconsin, some say the sport of Lacrosse claims the title as fastest-growing, but out in the rural areas it’s shooting at “clay pigeons.”
The sport’s official name is “Wisconsin High School Clay Target League.” It’s unique in lots of ways that make it a high school sport unlike any other:
It’s a true co-ed sport. Each school has one team, not separate boy and girl teams. In shooting, the girls are full members and the boys quickly learn girls can be some of the best shooters. While some sports require strength and speed, a good shooter can excel at 5’1” and 100 pounds soaking wet if she has fast reflexes, steady nerves and good aim.
Weather doesn’t curtail the season. When spring comes late, it raises havoc with track, softball and baseball. Not so with shooting. The kids get out the snow shovels, clear snow from the shooting stations, pile on more clothes and they’re good to go. Shooters began practicing in late March and didn’t miss a week. These kids want to shoot!
In the photo above, Grantsburg Gun Club members Floyd Drohman (blue coat) and Doug Vaksdal (green coat) provide instruction as the team members complete their weekly shoot back in mid-April despite the cold weather and snow.
No team-against-team competition. During the regular season, each team competes alone, on its own range. There is no side-by-side competition among schools. Scores for each shooter are recorded by a third party, reported weekly and posted for all schools to see.
One team for grades 6-12. The state league opened trap shooting to any student age 12 or older who has completed the state hunter safety certification course. Now they will need to change the name because it has grown beyond a high school sport.
Assistance from private clubs. Nearly every community in the rural areas has a trap shooting club. Typically, the club members provide use of their range and also do some coaching and training. Some clubs sponsor and underwrite some of the costs.
It’s a spring sport with a June state tournament. The state tournament is held outside the village of Rome, Wis., near Wisconsin Rapids. The community has a shooting facility that must be seen to be believed. A total of 30 trap houses in a straight row stretch more than a quarter mile and allow 150 shooters to compete at once.
A state tournament open to all participants. All registered team members from each are welcome to attend and compete at state, regardless of performance during the season.
Top competitors advance to a national tournament. The best shooters from each state are invited to compete in a national tournament in July in Michigan.
No injuries. Safety is the highest priority. In three seasons, all area teams have been injury-free. Their shoulders may be sore after a 50- or 100-bird shoot, but shooters wear ear and eye protection and have had no reports of injuries.
Tomorrow: How trap shooting started as a school sport and where it is headed. The area shooting teams and the gun clubs that support them.