Scholastic clay target league explodes in popularity

As another academic school year comes to a close across New York, shooting sports enthusiasts should be optimistic about the major growth of the New York State High School Clay Target League.

According to articles posted on the organization’s website, nyclaytarget.com, 1,149 students from 59 schools participated in the 2018 spring season. That’s up from 370 kids and 19 schools in 2017, and 128 students from five teams in 2016. Impressive, to say the least.

This writer witnessed firsthand part of this growth. A year ago at this time a handful of trap shooting enthusiasts, hunter education instructors, parents and the several students began a grassroots effort that would result in establishing 12 new teams in and around the Southern Adirondacks where I live.

Schools from Warren, Washington, Hamilton and Rensselaer counties organized teams and enjoyed their inaugural season this past spring. Parents and teachers, many who had never even shot trap, or skeet for that matter, stepped up to fill the role of coaches. Shooting clubs also stepped to the plate and a local non-profit was set up to help support the local students. Organizations like the Friends of the NRA, New York State Outdoor Writers Association and New York Outdoor News offered support.

When spring came – and it came slowly – the students took to the trap ranges and coaches watched as they continued to improve their scores each week, and their confidence grew. Along the way they made new friends from other schools and bonded with fellow students from their own schools as they competed against fellow trap shooters from all over New York.

The season in the southern Adirondack region culminated with a “fun shoot” in which more than 100 students gathered on a Sunday after the regular season but before the state shoot. Many shot their best rounds of the year at that event and took home medals as rewards for their efforts.

Those who went to the state tournament on June 9 in Cicero, N.Y., were among hundreds of students who shot thousands of rounds.

What’s happening in New York has been happening in other states for some time, and it will likely continue to expand as school administrators, parents and the students themselves come to understand the values of participating in shooting sports.

Perhaps the best yardstick of the growth of trap shooting in New York was that many schools recognized their trap shooting teams, or clubs as they’re considered in some cases, along with many individuals at their annual year-end sports banquets. This type of recognition only lights the fire for the kids.

Now, NYSHSCL is putting together a fall league and continues to encourage schools from all over New York to join the fun. Those who helped get the teams going in the aforementioned counties are offering their support to schools in the Capital District, just as other schools did for them.

Watching the expansion into the Southern Adirondacks and surrounding region has been a real pleasure over the past year. And it’s exciting to think about what lies ahead as high school competitive trap shooting continues to catch on all across New York.

Categories: Dan Ladd

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