FHS sophomore is organizing a new trap shooting clubFarmington High School sophomore Matt Clark really wanted to be part of a trap shooting team. The only problem was, FHS didn’t have one. So, he started his own.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Farmington High School sophomore Matt Clark really wanted to be part of a trap shooting team. The only problem was, FHS didn’t have one. So, he started his own.
The new Farmington Shooting Club kicks off its first season in early April, thanks to several months of work by Clark. The team already boasts approximately 20 members and two coaches.
The shooting club will join the ranks of teams associated with the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, a statewide shooting league with roots dating back to 2001. The MSHCTL started its competitive play in 2008, with only three teams of high school students. By 2011, the league had 29 teams.
Clark’s interest in shooting started at an early age. He started hunting with family members at age 12, but it was a neighbor of his grandparents who introduced him to trap shooting. He’s taken the necessary gun safety classes, and he’s been on his 4-H club’s clay target shooting team.
After heading to the 4-H state shoot last summer, Clark really wanted to start a club in Farmington. He figured it would be a lot of work, but he had no idea just how much he was about to take on.
He had heard about the MSHSCTL while participating in the 4-H shoots. He went online, found the website and read through the steps on how to get a club started. After all, it sounded easy enough.
“It was just up to me to figure out from the ground up,” Clark said.
One of the first things he had to do was to get approval from School District 192, since he wanted it to be a club where members could earn letters. He went first to FHS athletic director Jon Summer, but since the Minnesota State High School League does not consider trap shooting a sport, Summer directed Clark to assistant principal Kerry Timmerman, who oversees school clubs and activities.
Clark made a presentation to Timmerman, who gave the ok to go ahead. Even though it is not an official activity of the high school, students will be able to earn letters.
“It’s something we think is a good thing,” Timmerman said.
Clark lined up the Minneapolis Gun Club outside of Lakeville as the home site for Farmington’s newest team. Then, he told a few friends about what he was doing. Word of mouth went a long way in helping him find others who wanted to participate.
But the plans stalled when it came time for finding coaches. MSHSTCL rules say there has to be one adult coach for every 10 students on the team. Clark wasn’t having a lot of luck, and he was starting to lose hope when the Minneapolis Gun Club owner called to say one of the club’s members, Mike Thraen, was interested in being a coach. Not long afterward, one of his parents’ friends, Scott Haugen, also stepped forward.
Because clubs are popping up in school districts around the state, the MSHSCTL uses a virtual score recording system. That way, club members can go to the gun club closest to where they live, shoot, and record their scores on a computer program. The scores from each of the shoots are compared against the scores from whatever club they are competing with that day.
At the same time, the competing club has been shooting at their own home gun club. Using the virtual program eliminates the need for teams to travel, according to the MSHSTCL’s site.
The MSHSTCL also gives recommendations on what should be considered in developing lettering standards. Clark is using some of that information, and he’ll take scores into consideration, but some of the standards are coming from his own expertise.
“I just know what makes a good shooter good,” he said. “There are ways to tell is someone is excelling.”
With the club’s first season just a couple weeks away, Clark is working on finalizing the requirements of what team members have to accomplish in order to earn letters in trap shooting. Once that’s taken care of, all that’s left is to compete.
A feeling of accomplishment
Clark’s mother, Laura Clark, isn’t all that surprised by her sons interest in trap shooting. He was one of those kids who picked up toy guns, sticks, straws, and whatever else, took aim and “shot” imaginary targets. However, she is pretty surprised — and proud — of the work he’s done to get this club up and running.
As for Clark, well, he’s just ready to get going on the season, which runs April 7-June 10.
But he’s the first to admit he didn’t realize just how much work starting a new club would take.
“I pretty much did everything,” Clark said. “It’s massive amounts of time I’ve put into it, There were so many things I did I can’t even think of it all off the top of my head.
“I can’t explain what it feels like to see it all come together.”