by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
In its first year as an official St. Michael-Albertville High School sport, the Trapshooting Club placed first in the state tournament, following up its first place season.
The club began as a summer program for local youth interested in an environment where both learning and competition were key. The summer club continues today with 65 participants, the youngest of which is nine.
“The kids started saying, ‘We want to play for our school. We want to be a team. We want to letter,” remembered Joyce Olson, the Team Administrator.
Olson and the coaches presented the idea to St. Michael-Albertville High School and were delighted when the school accepted their request.
“This sport tends to attract kids who don’t play any other sport. That’s one of the things that sold it to the school. They’re always looking for something to bring in that’s different. They don’t want another team that’s a repeat of all the hockey players, all the baseball players, all the basketball players,” Olson said.
Trap Club is the only after school activity that Olson’s daughter, Emma, participates in. The 15-year-old was elated when she got the opportunity to turn her longtime hobby into a school activity.
She felt, “It helps me be more a part of the school.”
Emma Olson started shooting when she was nine. She’d watched her father compete in local leagues for years and, as she got a little older and showed a genuine interest in the sport, he took her under his wing and began to teach her.
Trap shooting involves shooting a rifle at clay targets. The regular season for the high school sport is all performed at the team’s home range. St. Michael-Albertville students shoot five at a time, usually taking two-and-a-half hours to complete a match. Matches are performed virtually, with each team entering their scores online and a winner determined from the scores.
Though brand new, the team attracted 35 participants in its first season. This number is, according to Olson, “About our limit.” Two of the co-ed team’s members are female. Several of the team’s members were brand new to the sport at the start of the season.
Seventeen-year-old Tommy Mavencamp has been trap shooting since he was nine. He enjoys being a mentor for the novice members of the team.
“It’s fun to see the new kids come in and improve,” he said. “We have a top five every week. Our coach always says, ‘Make sure you guys keep practicing. I want the new kids in the top five. Sure enough, the third week, a new kid was in the top five.”
Before joining the team, participants are required to complete a gun safety class. Safety is paramount, according to Olson. Whenever five people are shooting, at least two coaches are watching. The team has eight coaches in all.
The team has a two-strike policy. The first time any measure of gun safety is not followed, a warning is given. The second time, the offender is off the team.
“We’ve never had to give a warning,” Olson said proudly. “These are not the kids that are going to have an accident. They know how to handle a firearm.”
They also know how to handle competition. They took first place in varsity and junior varsity at the state competition held in Monticello.
“So many kids got their best score on a round,” Olson said happily. “Several got their first 25 out of 25. They all did really well. We’re very pleased.”