Students from the Dexter High School Trap Shooting Team recently went head to head on the trap field against a uniformed team of officers from the Washtenaw County Sheriff Office, for an evening of shotgun shooting competition.
Seven student athletes from the DHS Trap Team showed up on May 17th for this unique opportunity, held at their home range at the Ann Arbor Moose Sportsman’s League at 10101 N. Territorial Rd, Dexter.
Scores were tallied, but numbers of clay pigeons broken were secondary in importance to safe gun handling and having fun — the two main goals of this casual team building event. Sergeant Paul Cook, of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sub-Station #4 of Manchester Village, made it clear that this is just one way his office reaches out to meet local kids in a positive way.
“We always want to meet and get to know as many people as possible in a positive environment, and that requires that we seek these opportunities deliberately,” Cook said.
He did not cherry pick the best shooters to form his team, saying shooting proficiency on the trap range was not a consideration. Instead he chose officers who live in his station’s geographic area, so as to accentuate their community connection.
It was clear they made a positive impression on the kids that day, especially when each student was partnered with a Deputy for a two-man team event.The Dexter team is part of a statewide league, the Michigan High School Clay Target League, which itself is part of an overarching national organization that oversees high school shooting leagues across a dozen states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and others.
The number of states involved is growing, up from only three just last year, to twelve this year, with many others also expressing interest. Thirteen thousand student shooters across the country are involved in this year’s spring league — a number that has seen exponential growth every year since the league’s inception back in 2008.
League officials tout the organization’s stellar safety record, and require all shooters to pass a Hunter Safety course before the season begins, making it the only high school sport requiring a safety certification. No reported injuries have occurred in league play — a statistic that is truly unique, and even enviable, in high school sports.
Students shoot for score weekly at their home club, and scores are uploaded via the web for comparison to other teams. Michigan high school teams will meet face to face at the end of the season at the 2016 State Tournament scheduled for June 18th, held at the Michigan Trapshooting Association grounds in Mason.
Head Coach Laura Jones, an Education Advocate for ACCESS Education, was instrumental in forming the Dexter High Trap Team. Jones, herself a trap shooter, likes the inclusive nature of the sport, and the fact that it can be enjoyed throughout one’s life.
“In my professional life I see a lot of kids who are excluded from sports by disability or not being the best in a sport with limited team spots,” Jones said. “Trap is a sport for everybody and 100 percent inclusive.”
Kids of all abilities, including kids with disabilities, are welcome and able to become trap athletes, plus they can stick with the sport over their entire lifetimes.
“We have a team with a very wide range of kids, and it really works well,” Jones added.
The growth in ability has been impressive so far this season. League founders are quick to point out that the program is fully Title IX compliant, and often appeals to kids who may not fit into other sports. Boys and girls who are not the biggest, fastest, or strongest can still find a place on a high school trap team, and in some schools even earn a varsity letter in the sport.
In an age when parents are commonly asked to stay on the sidelines, the league encourages parental involvement – a great way for parents to be a part of the team and bond with the students.
There were smiles all around that evening at the Moose, as kids mingled with the deputies and parents cooked burgers and hot dogs on the shooting range deck for all to enjoy. New friendships were forged, plans were made for future get-togethers, and lasting memories were made. With the success of this event, the student athletes, parents, and coaches alike walked away with a newfound sense of camaraderie with their local law enforcement officers.
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