Burlington High School Trapshooting Team Twin Lakes, WI

Is Trapshooting America's Fastest-Growing High School Sport?

Teen athletes are joining high school trapshooting squads in record numbers. In Minnesota, it's beating out hockey, if you can believe that.

Trapshooting has always been cool, but lately the coolness factor has quadrupled in the upper Midwest, as the sport is growing exponentially in some places.

Young people are joining the sport in record numbers, and schools and gun clubs are scrambling to keep up. Take Minnesota for example.

Bob Adelmann reports that in 2010,"there were 340 students from around the state of Minnesota taking part in the sport. In 2012, there were 1,500. In 2014, there were 6,100. So far this year 8,600 high-school students, on 268 teams, are practicing those skills at 165 ranges across the state. Hundreds more have been turned away for lack of facilities and coaches..."

That is, frankly, incredible. And this growth is taking place at a time when culturally the anti-gun movement and media are relentlessly attacking Second Amendment rights seemingly more than ever.

It is politically correct to poo-poo the shooting sports, at least that seems to be the case primarily on the coasts. While there certainly are enough politically correct and anti-freedom attitudes sprinkled throughout the country, I think that by and large, Midwesterners tend to push back against such nonsense in greater numbers.

For example, recently there was a little brouhaha at one Minnesota high school over the trapshooting team posing with their shotguns for the school yearbook picture. School policy forbade the photo as it showed firearms. Parents and supporters rallied in numbers and strongly voiced their opposition to the policy, and school officials acquiesced and allowed the photo.

Instances like that initial school policy, however, are going to be increasingly hard to justify if high school trapshooting continues to explode throughout the region. Wisconsin and North Dakota have joined Minnesota and started leagues of their own, and more than two dozen other states have made inquiries about what infrastructure is required to institute trapshooting leagues in their schools.

During the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League Trapshooting Championships, more than 20,000 fans watch the matches.

Jim Sable, who founded the state's trapshooting league in 2000, says that he expects the sport to continue its meteoric rise.

"The only limiting factor is the number of gun ranges the state has," said Sable. "And we're trying to increase those, and improve the ones we have, as fast as we can."

Team members can letter in trapshooting, which is an important consideration for many participants. Oakdale Tartan High School senior, Zach Drayna also said"It gives an opportunity to people who are not athletic. It's more about nerves than anything else."

While the average cost to participants is around $350 - not counting custom shotguns that some shooters use - in many instances booster clubs and other community support organizations donate funds to help the teams defray costs. High school trapshooting truly is a community activity.

Adelmann recounts the story of Courtney Olson, a former anti-gun mother who learned that her son Zac wanted to join the local trapshooting team at Lakeville South High School. Initially, Courtney was strongly opposed to the idea, but once she saw Zac "blossom into one of the school's top shooters, she not only changed her mind but also helped Zac invest in a $1,400 shotgun and a $600 Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol as well." 

This is great news for all lovers of freedom and the Second Amendment. These young people and their families are taking a very active public role in supporting the shooting sports and firearms. Surely the case of Courtney Olson is not isolated. There are no doubt numbers of high school athletes and their parents for whom gun ownership was a foreign concept prior to their joining a trapshooting team.

Could trapshooting be changing minds about firearms, minds that have been inundated with anti-gun propaganda from gun control groups and the media? That seems to be a given. Education, as they say, is key, and hands-on education and practical experience is showing countless families what a wholesome activity the shooting sports truly are.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

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