Janesville66°

Trapshooting gets new life in Delavan

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Ted Sullivan
August 8, 2009
— When Ethan Fink joined the local trapshooting team, he'd never shot a gun in his life.

He was recruited by his grandpa, who asked him to give the sport a try.


Fink hit only eight of 25 targets his first time, but he wasn't discouraged.


"I like that you can come out here and you don't need to kill anything," Fink, 15, said. "You just have fun with a gun."


Fink is one of 10 local teens on Delavan's first competitive youth trapshooting team. The team was created to revive the sport with a new generation, coach Bob Ebbers said.


"You see all old people shooting. You don't see a lot of kids," he said. "We want to see kids enjoy it. It's going to die if we don't."


The Delavan Sportsmen's Club and Scholastic Clay Target Program sponsored the team, and coaches convinced Delavan-Darien High School to include trapshooting as a club sport.


The team formed in the spring. The club was advertised during school announcements and had sign-up sheets.


Ten kids joined the team, including teens form Delavan, Elkhorn and other parts of Walworth County.


"For the first year, that's not bad," Ebbers said.


Michael Hoffman, 17, joined after hearing about it at school.


"I like shooting guns, and I just came out and did it," he said. "It's just fun to get out here and shoot."


Trapshooting is a form of clay pigeon shooting. Competitors fire at a single clay target.


The team entered about seven competitions this year. A typical competition consists of each teen firing at 100 targets from five positions. Their scores are based on the number of hits after four rounds of 25.


"There was improvement every time," assistant coach Jim Krakofsky said. "We did well."


During a recent practice, five kids took positions along the shooting range at the sportsmen's club. They held up their 12-gauge shotguns with bags of shells on their hips.


The kids held steady stances, screamed "pull" when they were ready and fired when the orange clay disc shot into the air.


For beginners, they were accurate. Most of the discs were shot into pieces.


"The first couple weeks were pretty rough," Krakofsky said as he watched the team fire practice rounds. "Now, they're fantastic."


The team's coaches taught the kids about how to stand and hold the gun. They saw major improvements from practice to practice, from competition to competition.


"I shot eight out of 25 the first time," Fink said, then "I shot 22 one time."


Andrew Gasch, 18, and Gregory Gerkhardt, 18, are hunters. They've been around guns but had never tried trapshooting.


"I thought it would be fun," Gerkhardt said. "I always wanted to do it."


Hitting targets during competitions turned out to be an adrenaline rush, he said.


"I know other guys who like football or baseball, but I know if they weren't doing those, they'd be on our team," Gerkhardt said.


The coaches hope to grow the program and have it become a recognized letter sport at the high school, Ebbers said.


Burlington recognizes trapshooting as a letter sport and has a team of 60, he said.


The Delavan program could grow to that size, Ebbers said.


Next year, the goal is to get to nationals, he said.


"They've come a long ways in a short amount of time," Ebbers said. "We're looking forward to next year."


But, even if they don't go that far, the kids are having fun.


And they plan to return next year.


"We want to make it a lifelong program," Ebbers said. "Hopefully they'll come back and perpetuate the sport for years to come."



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