It was announced earlier this month that the season would officially begin Tuesday, May 19 at the Sportsmen’s Club Shooting Range. Due to COVID and social distancing guidelines, the team of 20+ high schoolers were spread out to Tuesday and Thursday nights opposed to one night a week to limit group sizes.

By Brandon Streich

Sports Writer

Back in October of 2019, Sleepy Eye District 84 Board of Education approved the establishment of a high school trap shooting team. Because trap shooting requires a sponsorship that is a local organization, the trap shooting team is sponsored by the public school, however the team is run through the Sleepy Eye Sportsmen’s Club.

The season was originally scheduled in early Spring, but due to COVID-19, the beginning of the season was extended. On Tuesday, May 12 the USA Clay Target League issued a statement saying that the National Championship originally scheduled for July 8-12 was canceled.

It was announced earlier this month that the season would officially begin Tuesday, May 19 at the Sportsmen’s Club Shooting Range. Due to COVID and social distancing guidelines, the team of 20+ high schoolers were spread out to Tuesday and Thursday nights opposed to one night a week to limit group sizes. Teams participate in five seperate rounds with 25 shots per round. The team plans on doing one shoot per week. The season ends June 24 and will be complete as long as teams have five events in by that date. Due to the season extension, all League-sponsored State Tournaments and State Championships will no longer be held. The extension allows ample time for student-athletes the best opportunity to participate in the 2020 Spring season.

Results are logged by a scorekeeper and then tracked virtually online.

Because the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League has set a priority on safety, new guidelines were created to adhere to social distancing. A few guidelines include staying home if you are sick, non-essential spectators are asked to stay home, limit group sizes when possible, protective face and hand equipment are recommended but not required, wash hands regularly, and wipe down or disinfect equipment after participation.

Coaches and athletes are encouraged to avoid sharing equipment and are suggested to avoid carpooling to events with members outside of their household. Coaches and athletes are also asked not to make celebratory contact like high-fives and pats on the back, handshakes, etc.

Also tied in with safety, student participants are required to complete a state-approved hunter education certificate or complete the Leagues SAFE certificate. Teams then verify their firearm safety requirements with the local shooting range. Safety is the main focus of all coaches and student-athletes on the trap shooting team. The team of 20+ from both Sleepy Eye Public and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s have the safety guidance and coaching expertise of Ryan and Jeff Zarn, Mike Hardin, Brian Berkner, and Andy Pelzel. Sleepy Eye Police Officer Matt Schmidt also gives his time providing to the team as well.

The coaches and student-athletes hope the first year of trap shooting translates into higher participation in the future. For a first-year program, over 20 student-athletes is a good start.