One of the biggest spring sports in terms of student participation at Belle Plaine High School is one that many people are unaware it exists – the Minnesota State High School League Clay Target League.
Belle Plaine entered the league in 2011 with 12 shooters. By 2014, there were over 40 shooters in the program and over 30 of them are back this year.
Among them is sophomore Josiah Barringer, who last year became the first Belle Plaine shooter to qualify for state, finishing 54th among 90 trapshooters. Then a freshman, Barringer hit 89 percent of the 100 targets, with individual rounds of 21 of 25, 24 of 25, 21 of 25 and 23 of 25. The winning score was a 99 of 100 by Gust Lumdeen of Dassel-Cokato. His only miss came in the third of four rounds.
Joining Barringer as other top trapshooters back this year for Belle Plaine are Duane Good, Brandon Heitz, Wyatt Herrmann and Logan Lunow.
Belle Plaine also has a junior high trap shoot team. Unlike other varsity sports, the junior high shooters’ scores compute equally when determining an overall team score.
In 2014, the Minnesota State High School League became the first state high school interscholastic athletic association in America to provide support and recognition for trap shooting as a high school sport.
The clay target program is open to both boys and girls, who are on the same team, meaning there is no boys’ and girls’ teams.
Belle Plaine begins competition this week and will continue to fire away into June, including the 2015 Trapshooting Championships in Alexandria, for which all shooters qualify. More than 5,000 registered student athletes will compete. The tournament takes place June 11-16. This Championship is the qualifying team competition for the Minnesota State High School League’s State Tournament that will take place June 20 at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake.
Regular season competitions for Belle Plaine take place at the Caribou Gun Club in Le Sueur. Jack Schuneman is the head coach and is assisted by close to a dozen other volunteer coaches.
About the League
The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League (MSHSCTL) will host more than 8,600 registered student athletes representing 243 trap shooting and 25 skeet shooting high school teams for the 2015 spring season.
Led by the support of their schools and more than 2,400 volunteer coaches, thousands of student athletes will participate in shooting sports weekly April through June at more than 150 shooting ranges throughout Minnesota.
“Last year, 6,100 student athletes participated in the spring league,” said Jim Sable, executive director of the MSHSCTL. “With the addition of 83 new teams, the expansion of existing teams, the increased capacity of shooting facilities, and the addition of the new spring skeet league are some of the factors attributing to the continued success as Minnesota’s fastest-growing high school sport since 2008.”
Officials say the clay target league is also the safest sport in high school. Since 2001, the MSHSCTL has no reported injuries or gun-free zone violations at school.
Upon completion of the spring league, all trap shooting teams are invited to participate in individual and team competitions at the 2015 MSHSCTL Trap Shooting Championship at the Alexandria Shooting Park in Alexandria, scheduled for June 11-16.
“With an expected 20,000 attendees including more than 5,000 student athletes, this tournament will be the largest shooting sport event in the world” Sable said.