NEWTON — Numbers are up for the Newton Trap Club, a club sport for Newton high school boys and girls in the spring.
“We’re excited that the sport is growing here,” said Paul Klein, the team’s head coach. “We had 18 participate last year and we’ve got 25 this season.”
The Cardinals travel to Knoxville Saturday to open the trap meet season at the Marion County Sportsman’s Club. The team is working on hosting a meet in May at the Jasper County Gun Club.
When the club program began by Al Keninger in 2007, there were three students competing. Since then, 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).
Newton’s high school trap team is not a sanctioned sport by the two state activities associations in Iowa. The team is funded by donations, fundraising activities and by the athletes themselves.
Klein pointed out that each student pays for their own ammunition. The club provides clay pigeons to shoot during practices. The team practices at the Izaak Walton League facilities in Newton.
“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.
In 2014, the team has 13 athletes back from last year’s team that competed in six league trap meets, three sporting clays events and two five-stand league events. Newton’s varsity won one league meet, finished second three times and third once.
First-year shooters are classified as junior varsity and after that they are varsity. Shooters are required to have competed in at least four trap league events to qualify to go to the state trap competition. Trap team memberes are required to have completed a hunter safety course.
Back for the Cardinals are seniors Morgan Arrowood, Kaitlyn Cope, Alexander Fruetel, Eric Hodge, Jake Huizenga, Kayla Klein and John Miller; juniors Jacob Arrowood and Chase Urias; and sophomores Matt Bleakeny, Derek Damman, Coonor McAdoo and Bryce Romick.
Klein said seven varsity shooters and five junior varsity shooters competed at the 2013 state trap championships in Cedar Falls. Seven team members competed in the 2013 state sporting clays championships in Waukee and one squad finished fifth.
“Our goal is to promote firearm safety while helping the members understand the basics of the shotgun shooting sports in order to improve their shooting abilities,” Klein said. “Like all sports, we have team members that are really good and members that are improving. I consider them all successful if they are being safe, getting enjoyment from being on the team and improving, whether it is a little or a lot.”
New athletes on the team this season are juniors Michael Blom, Cole Doerring and Devon McAnally; sophomores Chaz Ridenour and Austin James; and freshmen Brian Bleakney, Evan Cook, Colton Kingery, Nathan Tremel, Clay Trotter, Allison Winchell and Logna Zaabel.
“My biggest concerns for our team is with its growth,” Klein said. “We practice at the Izaak Walton League, and with one trap house, it can be difficult to spend enough time with each of the shooters to help them. Also, with growth of the team, comes the increase in cost, but we have been fortunate that we have had donations to help keep the individual costs down.”