Tornadoes take a shot at forming trap shooting club

Scott Birklid aims to start something new at Anoka High School.

With spent shells littering the ground and a clay pigeon in the air, a Blaine High School trap shooting club member takes aim at the flying target during a practice session last spring. Anoka High School aims to start its own trap shooting club this winter. File photo by Sue Austreng

With spent shells littering the ground and a clay pigeon in the air, a Blaine High School trap shooting club member takes aim at the flying target during a practice session last spring. Anoka High School aims to start its own trap shooting club this winter. File photo by Sue Austreng

The outdoor adventures teacher wants to launch a Tornado trap shooting club – and judging by administrative support and dozens of eager student trap shooter wannabes, his aim is right on target.

“I’ve had many kids – a very diverse group of kids – tell me they want a trap shooting club here,” said Birklid.

Birklid has also had many parents, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts express a desire to help out with the club, he said.

Not only that, Principal Mike Farley, assistant John Lace and activities director Matt Menier are all on board, too.

“We have great support, great enthusiasm… now just some details to work out,” said Menier.

Ready, aim, fire. An instructor gives the Blaine High School trap shooter some tips before the clay pigeon flies during a practice session at Metro Gun Club, Blaine, last spring. File photo by Sue Austreng

Ready, aim, fire. An instructor gives the Blaine High School trap shooter some tips before the clay pigeon flies during a practice session at Metro Gun Club, Blaine, last spring. File photo by Sue Austreng

Details already established include the playing field, day and time the club would shoot. Anoka’s trap shooting club would practice at the Minnetonka Gun Club in St. Francis on Thursdays beginning in January.

The Tornado club would be part of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League and competition would take place as a spring activity.

The question is: How much does it cost? How do student trap shooters get to the Minnetonka Gun Club? Who provides shot guns and shells? And who are these shooters?

Birklid and Menier can provide answers to that last question.

“I see this trap shooting club as an extension of what students already do with their families: duck hunting, goose hunting, pheasant – this is an extension of that,” said Menier.

Birklid believes a trap shooting club will help meet outdoor enthusiasts’ passion for activity in the great outdoors.

“There’s a very diverse group of kids thinking about doing it. Boys, girls, younger, older. The more kids doing stuff outdoors the better,” Birklid said.

Of course, some people question the wisdom of putting a shot gun in the hands of a teenager, and Birklid and Menier offer some insight on the matter.

“It’s been proven that when kids connect with school outside the classroom they tend to do better in school,” Menier said. “This provides a different outlet for kids to be who they are. Maybe traditional sports don’t do it. Maybe music and plays don’t do it. Maybe poetry, debate, Spanish, German, GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) doesn’t do it. This club could do it.”

Birklid described the lessons learned by students practicing trap shooting.

“You learn concentration and rhythm,” he said. “You’re so dialed in to what you’re doing. You really learn focus and concentration.”

“You get to be part of a team, part of the school community and it’s the whole idea of something I’m working really hard at and becoming successful. It’s another way these kids can learn perseverance, diligence, team work.”

Menier also sees self-improvement as an added benefit of trap shooting.

“It’s a great way to open up doors for kids to better understand themselves,” Menier said.

As for safety, students must earn a DNR gun safety certificate before trap shooting is allowed.

And as for cost, the cost to participate in the trap shooting club is approximately $200 per student, about the same as it costs to play on other Tornado sports teams.

Learn more about the Tornado trap shooting club by giving Menier or Birklid a call at the school, 763-506-6200.

To learn more about the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, visit www.mnclaytarget.com.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com


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