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Hubbard County 4-H offers youth trapshooting

Hubbard County 4-H members (from left) Jerry Engst, Colton Packman, Kyle Packman (loading the clay pigeons), Austin Mackert and Sabrina Schroeder practiced their trapshooting skills in preparation for the state competition.

Trapshooting has become one of the most popular activities in Minnesota.

Last spring, more than 30,361 students from 319 high school teams participated in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League.

"This League continues to be the fastest-growing activity in Minnesota schools," said Jim Sable, Executive Director of the MNSHSCTL. "Such high participation shows the continued demand for alternative high school activities related to Minnesota's longstanding outdoor traditions."

Hubbard County 4-H has jumped on the popularity of the sport.

For the first time, Hubbard County 4-H offered shotgun and .22 rifle trapshooting this summer. In the past, the local 4-H club offered BB gun, air rifle and archery at the Akeley Arc. This summer, trapshooting was offered with participants meeting at the Mike and Jennifer Booge residence Wednesday nights to practice in preparation for the State 4-H Shooting Sports and Wildlife Invitational at the Alexandria RV and Shooting Park Sept. 9-11. Youth in grades 7-12 can compete in trapshooting.

Coordinator Ron Schroeder, Jim Engst and Darin Kowalke serve as instructors for the trapshooting program. A total of 23 4-H youth signed up for the new program.

"We've shot BB guns and air rifles and had archery indoors, so we figured we'd try getting kids shooting outdoors this year," said Schroeder. "The Booges allow us to shoot every Wednesday night if it's not raining and the kids really enjoy it. Safety is one of our big concerns. We have instructors watching and making sure everything is safe."

Sabrina Schroeder has participated in the state 4-H competition in air rifle and archery the last two seasons and decided to give trapshooting a try.

"I hunt deer and shoot at home, so I thought it would be fun to compete," said the 16-year-old, who plans to compete in trap, .22 and archery at state this year. "I hope to do well. I'm going to show up and have fun."

Jerry Engst has competed in air rifle and archery for eight years and has competed at state the last five seasons in those two activities. Trapshooting seemed a natural sport to join.

"My dad is an instructor and all my brothers were in it, so I decided to join 4-H," said the 15-year-old Engst. "Every year I've improved a lot and upped my scores (in air rifle and archery) at state. This year is my first year shooting a shotgun and I'm doing pretty well. I never shot before and I'm hitting 20 out of 25 targets. Hopefully I do that well at state."

More than 800 4-H youth are expected to compete in this year's various state shooting events, which is open to 4-H youth in grades 4-12 who have completed 15 hours of shooting under the guidance of a certified instructor and eight hours of wildlife education. Hubbard County 4-H works with the local Department of Natural Resources forestry and fisheries divisions to get in the wildlife education hours. Once all the requirements are met, youth are able to compete in three disciplines at state.

"Last year, every single kid improved," said Ron Schroeder. "Hopefully they'll continue to improve as we get them ready for state."

For more information or to join 4-H, go to the University of Minnesota Extension website (www.4-H.umn.edu) or contact Hubbard County 4-H Program Coordinator Mari Jo Lohmeier at 237-1246 or 732-3391.

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