Worthington trap shooting league competes in Alexandria tourney – The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Twenty high schoolers and recent high school graduates who train at the Worthington Gun Club competed Tuesday in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League’s trap shooting championships in Alexandria.

The nine-day tournament began Monday and continues through June 21 at the Alexandria Shooting Park. It’s the world’s largest clay target shooting event, featuring 7,897 athletes from 329 Minnesota high school teams.

Individuals who score in the Top 112, and 40 teams from the Minnesota State High School League, will advance to the championships June 25, at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake.

The Worthington Club, composed of students from Worthington, Adrian, Fulda and Okabena schools, has competed in the tournament in Alexandria for more than a decade.

“We were the first gun club that was in it,” said Aaron Sieve, one of more than half a dozen volunteers who coaches the local team. “We’d tried getting into the metro league and they wouldn’t let us … so we got our own thing going and got invited to shoot in Alex(andria).”

Since it was the first school in the area to develop a league, members come from other communities, he added.

Among those competing on Tuesday in Alexandria is team member Jacob Meyer, an incoming senior at Worthington High School who joined the league as an eighth grader. This will be his third year competing in Alexandria, having missed one year when the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meyer’s goal was to shoot 95 out of 100 clay pigeons in Tuesday’s shoot, though he hoped for 100 out of 100.

“You’ve got to be a little realistic,” he said with a grin.

Meyer, during practice on June 8 at the Worthington Gun Club, shot 99 of 100 clays — his best achievement yet. He was 93 for 93, and shot just a little under Clay 94 for the miss, and then went on to get the last six.

“I was nervous the whole time,” Meyer recalled. “After I shot 25 straight, I was pretty nervous and shaking a little bit.”

Meyer, who grew up hunting, said he has enjoyed the trap shooting league, and has learned a lot from coaches like Jonny (Jon Lang), Bubba (Aaron Sieve) and Dave Ross.

“They’ve all really helped me,” he said, adding that it’s important to take your time and develop a good aim to shoot the clay pigeons after they are flung into the air.

Logan Barber, who’s been in the league as long as Meyer, said he likes hanging out with friends and competing against his own best scores.

“I like the challenge,” added Nick Griffith, a soon-to-be junior at Worthington High School. His best score is 25 of 25 and 48 of 50.

All of the league members use a 12-gauge shotgun for trap shooting. A 20-gauge is also acceptable, but it’s been difficult to find ammunition, Sieve said.

Steven Adams, who just graduated from WHS in late May, is competing in his final contest this month after being a part of the local league since the eighth grade.

“I’m hoping to shoot even better than I’ve been shooting all year and previous years,” said Adams, who strictly shoots trap. “I enjoy how competitive it is — especially with a bunch of my friends.”

Meanwhile, Jada Jenkins is competing in her second year of the league as an incoming freshman at Fulda High School. She joined because both of her older brothers were involved in it and she looks up to them. They compete against each other in clay target shoots at home, and she also hunts deer with them.

“It’s made me a better, more accurate shot,” she said of the league training.

All league members are required to complete gun safety training, and safety training is reviewed at the start of the league’s season each year in late March. The season goes from April through June.

“We’ve had to blow snow out here to shoot (some years),” said Coach Lang. “It’s been cold and miserable.”

In addition to Lang, Sieve and Ross, coaches include Dan Adams, Dave Maras, Zak Kleve, Mary Oberloh and Pat Shorter, with numerous other volunteers helping to keep score. The league practice is generally once per week, though with school sport schedules and the weather, coaches may be out working with members up to four nights a week at the gun club.

At the contest in Alexandria Tuesday, the Worthington team was slated to start at 8:30 am with its first two rounds of 25 targets. The second two rounds were scheduled after lunch.

Every participant will have the opportunity to shoot up to 100 clay targets.

Since the local league was established, Sieve said they’ve had members advance to the state championship in Plymouth three times, with four individuals making the Top 100.

This year, the group won the conference championship, which was hosted online with shooting taking place at the Worthington Gun Club. The conference championship had the local members going up against students from Comfrey, Lourdes, South Ridge, LaCrescent, Providence Academy, Redwood Valley High School and Community Christian School — all leagues of about the same size as Worthington.

Sponsors for the Worthington Trap Shooting League are Nobles County Pheasants Forever, the Round Lake Sportsmen’s Club, Worthington Optimists, Worthington Gun Club, Heron Lake Young Men’s Club, Nickel and Associates, Matt Russell, 266 Ag Service and Jon-E-1 BBQ.

The program also receives funding assistance through the Midway USA endowment fund.

“They do matching funds, so every year we try to add to it,” said Sieve. “Anyone can donate to Midway USA and select Worthington. We’re able to draw 5% a year out of that.”

The money is used to purchase ammunition for league members, safety gear such as goggles and ear protection, as well as training.

According to the Minnesota State High School League, trap shooting is the safest sport in school, with not one reported injury since its inception in 2001. Each athlete must have complete firearm safety certification before participation.

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