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Ready, aim, pull!

Abby Boxrud lines up her shot during an event earlier this year. Photo courtesy of the Red Wing trap team1 / 4
The 2017 Red Wing trap team is made up of 40 members. Coach Scott Kosek expects that number to grow every year. Photo courtesy of the Red Wing trap team2 / 4
Nate Dopkins takes a shot at the target during an event earlier this year. Photo courtesy of the Red Wing trap team3 / 4
Trapshooting consists of five shooters who take turns shooting the clay targets, 25 per round. The Red Wing team shoots from a 16-yard marker. Photo courtesy of the Red Wing trap team4 / 4

The Red Wing trap team, now in its second year, is set to depart Wednesday, June 14, for the world's largest trapshooting tournament in Alexandria, Minn.

The moniker "world's largest tournament" seems to fit well for the state's fastest growing sport. More than 10,000 student-athletes are registered in state leagues, a number bound to continue growing. The same can be said for Red Wing's team, which has grown its membership to 40 this year, including four girls.

The nine-day tournament in Alexandria is sure to showcase the sport's increase in membership. When asked about what the tournament means to the Red Wing team, coach Scott Kosek singled out the atmosphere.

"There are 18 trap houses in Alexandria, but more importantly, it gives the students something big to look forward to at the end of the year," he said. "We learned a lot from last year's tournament. This year we expect around 120 people to make the trip, so we're bringing food and pop-up tents."

Red Wing coaches hope that the tournament isn't the last event for some of its shooters. Teams and players that score high will get invited to the Minnesota State High School League state tournament Saturday, June 24, in Prior Lake.

A unique sport

Team members, however, aren't fretting over the competition. To some, the fun and relaxed environment that trapshooting provides is the biggest reward.

"The friendly competition is the most enjoyable," 2017 graduate Cam DeLain said.

"Competing with friends is always fun and trying to beat my brother sometimes," eighth-grader and Cam's brother, Sam DeLain, quickly added.

Another boon for the sport is the accommodating schedule. The Red Wing trap team sets aside one day per week to shoot. Whereas other spring sports such as baseball and softball may require daily practices and games, trapshooting requires only Sunday afternoons. Athletes can shoot more days during the week if they want, but the low-key time commitment allows the students to participate in other activities as well.

Perhaps the most defining feature of the sport is that everyone who is on the team gets to participate in every event. For a team that has members ranging from eighth to 12th grade, that's no small feat.

"I meet new people that I wouldn't get to otherwise meet with," eighth-grader Chloe Struss said.

"Unlike other sports, the kids get to play at every competition," Chloe's mom Shelly Struss added. "It's not just all kids get to practice but some have to sit on the bench come event day."

Future of the sport

In many ways, the sport is future-proof compared to other more mainstream sports.

"It's something you can do for a lifetime," Steve Senty said. "Kids don't have to be physical athletes to participate."

Those traits have been beneficial to the sport as it gains popularity. Kosek said there are currently around 15-19 volunteers that assist the team and are absolutely essential to the team's functions.

"We wouldn't be able to do this without them," he said. "What's unique is that volunteers aren't necessarily the student's parents. Many of them do it because of pure love of the sport."

However, one area that is lacking is that Red Wing currently has no local range that can accommodate the trap team. The team currently shoots at Hampton Sportsman Club. Kosek said that the Red Wing area is searching for land to build a trap and skeet shooting facility, but anyone with ideas or information that can help in getting a range setup can contact him by phone at 651-764-0114.

Jake Pfeifer

Jake Pfeifer is a reporter and outdoors editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Previously, he worked at Detroit Lakes Newspapers.

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