Sunday’s Class 2A portion of the South Dakota High School Clay Target League State Tournament featured a variety of the state’s largest schools at the Aberdeen Gun Club.
Nestled in between those schools was Bowdle, one of the smallest schools in South Dakota. However, because trapshooting is so popular, the Bobcats are in the largest division of competition.
“Our group is kind of all spread out,” said team member Samantha Schilling of Akaska. “We have people from Eureka, Hoven, Bowdle, Akaska and just a lot of country kids that come in and shoot with us.”
Schilling, who will be a junior at Selby High School this fall, said she believes the north central region of the state has something to do with the sport’s popularity.
“I think it’s because we’re a pheasant hunting community. My family owns two hunting and fishing lodges. My dad is a big guide,” Schilling said. “I honestly couldn’t kill a pheasant until I was 10-years-old and trap has helped me a lot actually with that.”
Schilling was part of an all-girl line Sunday morning, something noteworthy since many schools do not have a large amount of female shooters.
“I’m so happy we have so many girls out, because when you’re on the line with boys, sometimes it’s intimidating,” Schilling said.
However, with the way the girls shoot on the Bowdle squad, there is no need for intimidation. In fact, there are times where Schilling outshoots the guys.
So how does that go over?
“They might be a little flabbergasted,” Schilling said, “but they’ll get over it.”
Schilling is used to shooting in state tournaments, whether by bow or by gun. She competed in the state archery tournament in Pierre this year.
“All shooting sports are kind of a mental game for everyone. I like being outside. There’s some archery tournaments where we can be outside, but we are lined up two feet apart in archery,” Schilling said. “There’s more pressure almost in archery, so I kind of like the feeling of being free and not touching shoulders with someone when trying to shoot instead of a little small arena with a bunch of other people.”
BATTLING COMPETITORS AND ELEMENTS
Aberdeen Central’s Addison Ward is the lone female shooter for the Golden Eagles this season.
She likes trapshooting because of the competitive nature of the sport.
“I really like competing and just seeing the other competitors, and just challenging myself,” Ward said.
Ward, who is going to be a sophomore, said she competes against herself and others.
“I try to improve my score every time,” she said, “but at the same time try and beat the others.”
On Sunday, Ward not only had to deal with the competition, but the windy conditions as well. She said the wind has varying impacts depending on which direction is it coming from.
“Sometimes it’s blowing in your face and it makes the clays rise really far and sometimes it’s blowing from your back and so the clays are going a little faster,” Ward said. “You just have to adapt and figure out what works best to get them.”
KEEPING THINGS ORGANIZED
Having a tournament that featured nearly 1,000 shooters and at least as many spectators is a major undertaking that does not come together overnight.
“It takes lots of hours getting ready for it,” said Jerry Brick, Aberdeen Gun Club President, “just getting all the equipment ready, making sure you have all the preparations.”
That includes supplying all of the clay targets that the shooters take aim at all tourney long.
“I think we’re probably going to go through about 100,000 in these two days,” Brick said.
Brick has spent decades involved in the sport and said that trapshooting is something that literally anybody can do.
“This is a sport that anybody can participate in, whether you’re a boy or girl or disabled,” Brick said. “You don’t have to be the jock at school. You can be a scrawny little kid and go out and still compete against all the others.”
BEATING THE HEAT
While a good share of the trapshooting regular season featured cold and windy conditions this spring, Sunday’s state tourney was on the warm side with temps climbing near 90.
Bowdle’s Hunter Drake found a way to stay cool with a safari style cap complete with flaps to protected his neck.
“I got this a couple of days ago in Mobridge,” Drake said.
The junior to be said it is important to find ways to deal with the elements.
“I think the hardest part is probably the wind. If you have a shot where it goes up when you shoot, that’s tough,” Drake said. “The heat really affects you, your stamina. Staying focused is really hard.”
And staying focused is a key in any sport, according to Drake who also plays football and basketball.
“If you can stay focused in on what you’re trying to do, your objective, what you need to do, then you can really succeed in everything,” Drake said. “Focus is the number one deal.”
Drake is part of a strong delegation of shooters from Bowdle, one of the state’s first schools to offer the sport of trapshooting.
“It’s really special. We have a great community of trapshooters,” Drake said. “It’s our biggest sport in the school. We work really hard and we’re always at the range, whenever we can.”
STATE TOURNEY DEBUT
While some of the shooters were wrapping up their careers during the state tournament, others were just getting started like Levi Edwards of Aberdeen Central.
The soon to be seventh-grader was competing in his first state tourney as a member of the Central JV squad. He knew the state tournament will be coming back to the Aberdeen Gun Club for years to come.
“It’s fun and since we’re going to host it for the rest of my new school time, I think it will be fun staying in town,” Edwards said.
While Sunday marked his first state tourney, it was not his first time shooting.
“I just shoot summer trap so I’m familiar with the sport,” Edwards said.
Edwards said one of the most enjoyable parts of the state tournament was meeting new people and making new friends.
He said trapshooting ranks right alongside all the other activities he is involved in.
“I play a lot of sports, actually,” Edwards said. “I like it. It’s up there.”
To see complete second day results, click on the following link:
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