Back when R.J. Klade was a student at Badger High School a decade ago, the school didn’t have any team or club for his interest in trap shooting.
So, his dad Judd Klade started one.
Now, 10 years later, the Badger trap shooting club is as strong as it’s ever been.
As part of the Southeastern Wisconsin Youth Trapshooting Conference, the team competes against 12 teams across the region from March until June, although not in the way one might expect.
Every Wednesday, the conference has a meet. However, the teams don’t need to all be present in one place. Each team shoots at its own home range, and the coaches submit the scores to the conference, which then tallies the standings.
However, teams can travel to an opponent’s home turf if they want to, which the Badger team did a few times this season to give themselves an advantage later on.
“We traveled a couple times up to Waukesha because the Waukesha gun club is where we had our conference shootout, so I wanted to make sure our kids were comfortable shooting up there. So we went up there twice during our conference season,” assistant coach Eugene Altwies said.
The practice paid off for the group, as they finished in the top half of the conference — fifth out of 12 teams — with multiple individuals placing in the top 10.
While the success is a fun part of the club, Klade says that even more important is the fact that kids from different walks of life all come together.
“It intermixes kids that typically aren’t going to be together. A lot of these kids, they don’t see each other. But they come here and they meet and become friends, and that’s a big part of it,” Klade said.
The people involved with the team certainly take that to heart, and it can easily be seen. Many of the assistant coaches are former athletes who have stuck around or come back after college, including R.J. Klade himself.
It’s not just the athletes who stick around though; sometimes their parents do, too.
Diana and Eugene Altwies first got involved with the club when their son was a member, and even years after he has left, the two are still a part of the team. Eugene serves as an assistant coach and Diana as an administrator, doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff, from scheduling to managing the group’s money.
Even though they don’t need to stick around, they do anyway, because they’ve grown so close to everyone involved with trap shooting.
“It’s something to help the community and stay involved,” Diana said.
As the team celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the group he helped create, Judd Klade is stepping down as the team’s head coach so he can spend more time with his family.
Of all the things he’s experienced in the past decade, one thing that will stick with him is the people he’s met along the way.
“This sport is a whole different type of people; they’re kind, considerate. I haven’t run into a bad person in my 10 years,” Klade said.
That tight-knit community of coaches, athletes and parents will make choosing a successor both incredibly easy and incredibly challenging for Klade.
“It’s easy to pick one of these guys, but it’s hard to let it go, because we’re so close,” Klade said.
Even after he steps down, though, just like so many others, he knows he’ll stop by every now and then to hang around the Badger trap shooting club.