Trap shooting joins sanctioned sports mix in Minnesota College Athletic Conference

Shooting organizations, including high school clay target leagues, continue to draw crowds across the country. Now, those high school participants will have a chance to compete at the next level in Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League)

In high school, only among the best in sports go on to compete at the college level.

But, in some cases, even the best don’t get that chance.

So it has been with Minnesota trap-shooters – options to continue what has become an immensely popular high school sport at the college level in Minnesota have, up to this point, been nonexistent.

But following an announcement Thursday, April 26, shooters now have a shot at participating in a sanctioned varsity sport at the college level in Minnesota – and it might just be the start.

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference has teamed up with the USA High School Clay Target League to offer a new sanctioned varsity sport – clay target shooting – set to begin this fall, according to a news release.

Trap shooting is the shooting sport of choice for the MCAC’s clay target offering, in which shooters on five-person teams take turns shooting at targets. Students will compete “virtually” by shooting at their local range and uploading their scores to the league for tracking, much like at the high school level.

“With the success of the USAHSCTL, we have always envisioned the league growing to provide shooting sport programs for colleges,” USAHSCTL vice president John Nelson said. “Our partnership with the MCAC is just the first of an exciting new path of post-secondary education and activity opportunities for graduating high school student athletes who have enjoyed the clay target league for so many years.”

MCAC Executive Director Peter Watkins said that clay target shooting offers a chance to engage a new population for college athletic departments.

“It allows schools to expand their ‘brand’ and school pride to a whole new population in and around their communities.” Watkins said. “Clay target student athletes and their families are connecting with the school, buying sweatshirts, coming onto campus more often, and learning about the education options at the colleges, much like we see in other sport populations.”

The league currently is assisting the MCAC in crafting the Clay Target Sports Code to help form the program, and it will provide leadership, administration, and interactive support, the release said. A six-week fall season will start in late August and conclude with the MCAC Clay Target Championship in mid-October.

Clay target shooting is fully Title IX compliant, with both male and female athletes competing on the same team. Additionally, it’s an “adaptive” sport, which allows students with physical disabilities to take part.

The MCAC is made up of 19 public, two-year community and technical colleges in mostly Minnesota, with two schools from North Dakota and one from Wisconsin as well. Several of the schools participated in an abbreviated pilot trap-shooting effort last fall, but this will mark the first year trap shooting will be a sanctioned varsity sport in the MCAC.

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