Trap team puts safety first, encourages others to try the sport

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Submitted by Max Shaffer

PULL. Captain Max Shaffer calls as he cues the clay disk to shoot out of the trap house.

Joining the trap team can provoke feelings of uncertainty due to the popular notion that the sport is violent and unsafe. Gun safety is a main priority with the trap team and they require every student to have their hunting license to participate in practice and competitions. When carrying the firearm students are required to have it unloaded and stored away in a case and instructed to only take it out when at the gun range. The students are also required to wear protection when shooting—such as headphones and goggles. The club is open to students in seventh through twelfth grade and radiates a laid-back, friendly atmosphere. When students first join, coaches Daniel Nicolai and Joe Shaffer provide a walk-through to all the students about the basics of the sport and tactics to improve accuracy to hit a higher percentage of their shots. In order to letter in trap shooting, players must have a season average of 22.5 or higher.

Practice takes approximately one hour and takes place at the Minneapolis Gun Club every Saturday morning. The trapshooting club is co-oped with Twin Cities Academy and started these last two weeks. During practice, they shoot 50 shots in two rounds. In each round, the competitors shoot five shots, untimed, and then rotate to the next station to shoot the next five shots. They continue with this pattern until they have shot from all the five different positions located around a semicircle. The shooters use a shotgun with pellets and aim at clay disks launched up in the air by a trap house, keeping track of their hits for the coaches and captains to submit to the headquarters of the league. Competitors mount their guns and look down the barrel wait till the orange disk hits the air to pull the trigger, hopefully hitting its mark.

I think there is a misconception that trap is a violent sport […] it’s really not because the gun is a tool.”

— Autumn Spaulding

Junior Jack O’Brien has been in the club since seventh grade and lettered last year. O’Brien said, “In the words of my coach, you want the person next to you to do well, but you also want to do better than the person next to you.” While trap shooting is a competitive sport, players compete individually and aim to beat their old records as opposed to other shooters.

Captain Max Shaffer works with the other parents in charge to schedule and lead practices. He works with his teammates to improve their aim by providing pointers on their technique. Shaffer normally shoots a 23 or 24. Compared to last year the trap shooting team has grown in numbers and therefore has a better chance of pulling ahead in competitions, Shaffer said, “I can see this team going to a couple, either pre-state or state shoots. I know in the past we have sent a couple of people.”

Junior Autumn Spaulding said, “I think there is a misconception that trap is a violent sport […] it’s really not because the gun is a tool.” Spaulding has been part of the trap team since ninth grade, the club has helped her refine the hunting skills that she developed pheasant hunting with her family. She describes the sport as fun and soothing—recounting the rhythmic sounds of the gunshots echoing in her ears.

The team submits scores to the Amateur Trap Shooting Association. The team encourages students to join since it is a small-time commitment and very fun to try.