Trap shooting is on the rise throughout the country, and Wisconsin is no exception.
There is a buzz around the state’s sports pages that has even begun to seep its way into the capitol in Madison.
What is trap shooting?
In case you’ve never heard of it or experienced it, trap shooting is a sport where the athletes need to shoot flying targets.
Five shooters line up in a row, shooting side-by-side, with multiple groups of five competing at the same time depending on the size of the facility.
Generally, shooters will shoot 25 clay discs in a round, and a competition will be four rounds with the winner being the one with the most hits out of 100.
The easiest place to see the growth of the sport is at the high school level. Badger High School’s club trap team serves as a great example.
When Coach Judd Klade founded the team eight years ago, he says there were about 15 kids on the team. This year’s squad had close to 40.
The team recently competed in the Scholastic Clay Target Program Nationals tournament, with five of their athletes participating.
The team performed well, placing 31st out of 58 varsity teams in attendance, with the shooters getting some valuable experience along the way.
Unlike many other sports, where entrance to a national tournament is reserved only for the top team or two in the state, the SCTP Nationals allow any team that participates in a state tournament to enter.
This plays into one of the biggest reasons that Klade believes the sport is growing so quickly.
“What’s unique and different about this sport, it’s equal and fair,” Klade said. “There’s no child that will ever not be able to do it if they want to, anybody can do it.”
This sentiment was shared by the athletes themselves.
“It’s just a mental sport, it’s not that physical. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall, large, whatever, anyone can do it because it’s your mental ability,” Lisa Ceisel said.
While the members of the team did say that buying a gun and shells can get expensive, in terms of physical restrictions to the sport, it’s very beginner friendly.
One doesn’t need to be tall like in basketball, or big like being a football lineman. To shoot, you just need the will to try.
And while experience helps, it isn’t necessary to play the sport for five to 10 years before high school to master it.
Take Badger’s Ian Darbro for example. He had very little experience before beginning his high school career, and at Nationals he shot the best on the team, hitting 191 out of 200 clay pigeons.
Klade emphasized the importance of gun safety, saying that it was the most important aspect for beginners to pick up on.
However, if Wisconsin lawmakers have a say, that might not be the job of Klade anymore.
Eighteen state representatives sponsored a bill in late June that would require the state superintendent to create a curriculum for a gun safety course to be taught as an elective in high schools.
The bill would not make it mandatory for high schools to carry gun safety as an elective, but it would give them the opportunity. Live ammunition would not be used in the course.
Klade believes that teaching students how to correctly handle a gun could help more kids get interested in trap shooting. He also thinks that even if kids aren’t interested, it would still be good knowledge to have.
“Gun safety in general, even if they don’t shoot, or don’t go into trap, gun safety is important,” Klade said. “No matter if you’re in the sport or wherever you’re at, knowing what guns can do is very important.”