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Grand Forks high school students get a shot at trapshooting

Grand Forks high school students can now take a shot at trapshooting.

Following concerns of cost and safety, the Grand Forks School District recently approved endorsing clay target shooting as a club.

An agreement between the district and the Grand Forks Gun Club, which has been pushing the district to offer the sport, shifts most of the responsibility to the club, according to district documents.

Club members assured School Board members on Monday about sport safety and liability, citing the incident-free track record of the U.S.A. High School Clay Target League since 2001. If an incident does occur, students would be insured through the state clay target league and gun club, members said.

Students have already shown an interest in the program, which led the Gun Club to suggest it as an option, they said. Member Jim Schulind said club and Park Board programs show about 89 student participants.

"The coolest part about this whole thing is it's interactive," he said. "Boys and girls shoot together, and handicapped students can get involved. Kids that may not be able to participate in other sports can get involved, and I think it's a neat opportunity for them."

Previous efforts have been made by the Gun Club to offer it as a district sport as interest continues to grow across the state. At least four schools in North Dakota—in Larimore, Devils Lake, Enderlin and Fargo—will start programs this year. The state league anticipates at least six more schools will start programs, too, Schulind said.

The popularity of clay target shooting nationwide has also skyrocketed. Since 2008, the number of student athletes participating in the sport has grown from 30 to 11,077, according to the league's numbers. This year, the national league expects four more states to join.

Rules and expectations

Trapshooting will be treated like any other district high school sport, and students must follow all the same rules and regulations, district Athletic Director Mark Rerick told School Board members Monday.

No travel is required. All shooting takes place at the Grand Forks Gun Club location, and coaches send scores to the national league to determine winners, Schulind said. Club members expect about 30 to 40 students to sign up per high school.

Organizers said student costs could be about $250 or less per athlete, which includes registration fees and uniforms. Fundraising through the Gun Club and donations will offset some of the costs, Schulind said.

Safety is the club's biggest priority, he said. No injuries have been reported in the national league, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois and Kansas. That includes 24,000 participants and more than 12 million shots fired, according to information from the North Dakota State High School Clay Target League. Students must also wear protective gear and have a hunter education certificate from the state gaming department.

The trapshooting league lasts nine weeks, starting in early April, and the state tournament can draw quite a crowd, said Schulind.

"Everyone's invited to the state shoot," he said. "In Minnesota, we just had 5,600 students shoot in Alexandria."

Some districts in the area already offer the program. East Grand Forks has about 43 students currently involved, club member John Secord said.

Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit www.grandforksherald.com. 

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