By Alex Folz

Football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, and softball are popular sports that many people enjoy. However, there are other sports that are overlooked. Shooting sports, such as trap teams, often fall in this category.

Trap shooting is a sport in which the competitors shoot clay pigeons with shotguns. It improves hand-eye coordination, sportsmanship, and mental focus, and is enjoyable for those who participate. Mark Henning recognized this and started a team in 2017 with Adam Axtell for the youth in the Wilton, Durant, West Liberty, Muscatine, and Tipton areas.

The Wilton Trap Team consists of over 20 students from these schools, ranging from fifth to twelfth grade. Their season begins with practice on the first Wednesday of March and goes until state competition.

The state competition, called the Iowa State Scholastic Clay Target Program Championship, takes place this year from June 6 – 10. In order to qualify for the state meet, students must have attended four local meets. Local competitions take place every Saturday in April and May. The team practices and competes at the Muscatine Izaak Walton League, which will host four local meets in 2018. Other meets also take place at locations approximately an hour and a half from Wilton.

Henning is very thankful to the Izaak Walton League, stating that he “can’t praise these gentlemen enough.”

The team had two students medal at the state competition in 2017. Hannah Proctor was the junior varsity state champion and Cole Henning, at the intermediate entry, placed second in handicap shooting and sixth in singles. The team also had a student, Vivian Urmie, receive a scholarship to shoot for Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.

Henning stated that the students raise money for their team, allowing them to be self-funded. They have collected cans and also rely on local businesses for sponsorship. Students attend local conservation group events in order to raise money by working these events.

The team is self-insured through the Scholastic Clay Target Program. The membership fee is $20 per child, but provides a $5 million umbrella insurance policy. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) serves as the administrator.

All coaching staff for the team receive training through a program with the Iowa DNR. Each coaching member must also submit to a background check. Some coaches also receive additional training with the National Rifle Association.

“It’s a great sport for kids struggling to get into a competitive program. [It’s] definitely an opportunity for kids to get involved with something,” Henning said.