NEWTON — Going off the beaten path is not always a bad thing. It may be challenging, but that’s not a bad thing either.
During the spring sports season, Newton high school students — boys and girls — have an opportunity to do just that. Since 2007, the Newton Trap Club has allowed NHS students with interest in competitive trap shooting to compete in the Iowa High School Clay Target Association (IHSCTA) and the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP).
Current Newton Trap Club coach Paul Klein said this is a growing sport for Newton. When the club program was begun Al Keninger in 2007, there were three students competing.
“We have 27 signed up for this season,” Klein said. “The goal of the team is to promote safe firearms use while exposing participants to the clay target sports. It is not a cheap sport, and we’re looking for sponsors to help offset costs of registrations for the five or six competitions for our athletes.”
Klein pointed out that each student pays for his or her own ammunition. The club provides clay pigeons to shoot during practices., which take place at the Izaak Walton League facilities in Newton.
With 18 team members a year ago, Klein said the team went through 45 cases of clay pigeons. Receiving donations to help defray the cost of the practice pigeons is helpful, he said.
Practices for the 2014 season begin March 15, which is a Saturday. Klein said they schedule the first practice on a Saturday to not rush the new athletes to the team. The team practices on Tuesday and Thursday after school during the season, March through the first week of June.
Competitions begin in April and conclude at the state trap meet in Cedar Falls. Klein said at the state meet last year, there were 2,200 athletes, and it is projected to increase to 2,600 this year.
“You compete with a five-man squad, which can be made up of boys and girls. Some competitions give awards out for top male and top female shooters but it is a coed sport,” Klein said.
Klein said although the trap shooting club is not a sanctioned “high school” sport, the club has great support from Newton Senior High School. Students competing in the sport of clay target shooting still have to meet academic requirements to be eligible.
“Also each member of the team must passed the Iowa DNR’s hunter safety course,” Klein said. “To compete in the state tournament in June, they have to have attended at least six practices and compete in at least four competitions, plus be in good academic standing.”
Klein said he attempts to keep competitions the team travels to close to Newton. In the past, the Newton team has hosted a home meet at the Jasper Gun Club. He said he was trying to do that again this season. Varsity shooters also compete in sporting clay shoots, which are walking courses much like a hunting course.
“The fun of the sport for me is watching these kids improve in the sport,” Klein said.
Any individuals, businesses or organizations interested in donating to help sponsor the Newton Trap Club may contact Klein at (641) 792-6164.