It’s the fastest-growing extracurricular high school sport in America. Trap shooting has gone from a sport with just a few kids participating back in 2008 to over 30,000 kids participating today.
Crook County High School students are among them, preparing for their second season.
“The kids are dedicated,” said head coach Wayne Hilderbrand. “It’s not a cheap sport to be in with range fees and shells. But we want to keep the club rolling.”
On a beautiful, windy evening at the Rod and Gun Club in Madras, the newly-formed Crook County High School Trap Club team was at the range for practice.
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Hildebrand said the team has gone from eight members in its first year to 22 this year.
“It’s been really fun,” said freshman McKenna Fox. “At first, it was really intimidating because I’m the only girl. And I felt like I constantly had to prove myself. But I’m a lot more comfortable now and the coaches are great.”
These guys and gals are the real deal. They finished second in their conference last year in their first year of existence and even sent one shooter to nationals in Michigan.
“I ended up finishing 80-something in state and I got to go to nationals,” said junior Mason Yancey.
To join the team, individuals must first complete extensive safety training and gun handling classes and there is always adult supervision during practice and competitions.
The Crook County School District has emphasized increasing the options for after-school sports and activities over the past few years. The trap club is another example of the district meeting students where their interests are.
“My thought’s always been you keep the kids busy, and they’ll stay out of trouble. And this is a good way to keep them out of trouble,” said Hilderbrand.
As the sport continues to grow nationwide, Hildebrand expects his Crook County team to grow alongside it.
“I’m looking forward to 30-plus kids next year,” said Hilderbrand.
Talk to the kids and they’ll tell you what makes a great competitor in this sport isn’t necessarily the physical tools one has on the trap range. It’s all about that space between your ears.
“It’s a mental game. So we try to focus on doing the same thing every time with our set up and not to get into our heads,” said McKenna. “But there’s good days and there’s bad days. So even the best shooter can go out there and shoot terribly. It depends on the day and the weather. Everything goes into it.”
“Being able to stay out of your own head and just stay focused on what you’re doing. And practice, making sure your mechanics are where they’re supposed to be and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be every time,” said Mason.
He sums it up this way.
“Being able to get a varsity letter in a sport where we get to use guns and come out and have fun. That’s pretty awesome,” said Mason.