Trap shooting explodes

Growth of the Kimball High School trap shooting team illustrates what’s going on statewide as a sport in its second official year takes off.

Arianna Davis used to tag along when her brother Hunter practiced at the Kimball Rod & Gun Club. This year, the seventh-grader joined him on the Kimball High School trap shooting team.

She’s one of the new shooters on a team that more than doubled in size — from 19 to 40 — since last year’s inaugural season. And she’s one of seven girls on the previously all-boys team.

“I like that it’s co-ed. It’s a team event,” said their father, Larry Davis, who works for a sauna company and spends some of his free time hunting ducks and pheasants with his kids. “I’d like them to know how to handle guns. Hunting season is just one time a year; this gives them the opportunity to work with their guns more.”

A lot more shooters have been getting hands-on experience since the Minnesota State High School League last year recognized trap shooting as an official sport. (The league incorporated in 2008.)

John Nelson, vice president of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, said participation increased from about 6,100 last spring to about 8,600 this season. The league is open to sixth- through 12th-graders. Minimum age to complete the required gun-safety training is 12 years old.

“What’s better than to come out with all of my friends?” said Arianna, 13, who also plays volleyball.

“Anybody that I knew owned a gun, I told them to join the team,” said Hunter, 16, a sophomore who also plays football.

Trap shooting participation during the 2013-14 school year ranked 16th among Minnesota’s competitive athletic high school sports — well behind No. 1 football (25,582) but ahead of boys hockey (5,718).

Schools and shooting ranges seem to like the sport for the same reason — anybody can get involved. Kids who don’t play other sports. Kids who might grow up to become club members.

“Now these kids that aren’t the fastest, strongest, tallest, can participate because they don’t participate in other sports,” Nelson said.