Aiming for state FFA trap shooting awards

Photo by Jenny Kirk A shooter from Martin County West takes aim during the State FFA Trapshooting competition on Saturday at Shooter’s Sporting Clays near Marshall.

MARSHALL — More than 300 high school students from across the state converged for the State FFA Trap Shoot hosted by the Marshall FFA Chapter.

The FFA students representing 34 different schools competed at one or both of the facilities used — Shooters Sporting Clays and Redwood River Sportsmen’s Club, both of which are in the rural Marshall area.

“I think the Marshall Chapter has been hosting for about 15 years,” Marshall FFA adviser Michael Braithwaite said. “I’s been really good. And every year, we keep improving.”

Along with Marshall FFA adviser Emma Hoversten, Braithwaite spent the day at Shooters on Saturday.

“We had a lot of kids — a lot of teams — coming through,” he said. “We had 287 trapshooters, 199 shooters for sporting clays and 74 shooters for skeet. It’s a lot of things to keep track of.”

Hoversten said she thought the FFA event went really well.

“We had a lot of teams come through and everyone seemed to have a good time,” she said. “They really loved the facility. I heard a lot of good comments — people walking in and saying — like, ‘Wow, it’s so nice in here.’ “

The FFA students competed on Friday and Saturday, but the results aren’t expected to be posted for a few days. Awards will be given out at a later date.

“We’ll be awarding the top three teams and top individual for every event,” Hoversten said. “They’ll be recognized at the State FFA Convention in April.”

High school participants had the opportunity to compete in skeet and trapshooting at Redwood River Sportsmen’s Club. At Shooters, the FFA students could take part in trapshooting and sporting clays. For fun, double wobble and duck flurry were also offered.

“We’ve been doing a little more here at Shooters as Nate (Petersen), who owns the place, has gotten more and more things put up out here,” Braithwaite said. “It’s kind of nice to have as much as possible in one place.”

The Wabasso team of five competed at both facilities.

“We have a pretty young team this year,” FFA adviser Lisa Roker said. “The team consists of two freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and one senior. Three of them had never done the FFA Shoot in the past, though they do the school shooting clays and some of them are 4-H shooters.”

Overall, Roker said she thought the team was satisfied with their effort.

“I think they were happy with how they shot,” she said. “The kids did skeet at Redwood River. Three hadn’t shot skeet before, so it was kind of a learning experience. It was right away at 8 a.m., too, so it was a little challenging. They also shoot trap at Redwood River, then they finished out the day with sporting clays (at Shooters).”

Through the two-day event, 26 Marshall FFA members competed.

“Marshall had a very strong performance in all three events,” Braithwaite said. “They performed well even with the heat and wind we had on our shoots on Friday afternoon. I’m still waiting on a few small things, but unofficially, Marshall should be in the top three for all events and have a top shooter in sporting clays.”

Before and after competing, many of the Marshall FFA members volunteered to help out.

“We had some volunteers from Pheasants Forever come out and help us, which was great,” Braithwaite said. “But we use as much kid help as we can. We had a bunch of the kids helping, either working the station or keeping score — just keeping things moving as smoothly as possible.”

Jazz Schreifels, Mary Sundquist, Levi Van Keulen, Trevor Van Keulen and Kaylee Hoflock volunteered at Shooters on Saturday.

“I helped with scoring trap and sporting clays,” Schreifels said. “We also had to make sure all the shells were picked up.”

Schreifels, a senior at Marshall High School, has been on the trap team since her freshman year.

“I like going hunting and I saw posters up all around school,” she said. “So I decided to go to the meeting. I just thought it would be fun.”

Schreifels said the FFA advisers and shooting coaches (Don Acher and Kevin Kaiser) stress safety at all times. Aside from the camaraderie and competition aspects of the sport, she said she enjoys moments of clarity before firing a shotgun.

“I like when we go out to shoot — those times between each person — having that time to get your mind clear,” she said.

Sundquist isn’t on the trap team, but she is a regular volunteer at FFA events. On Friday, she said she mostly kept score for trap and also helped out on the sporting clays field.

“You walk though the there’s different stations (simulating) like for rabbits and birds and stuff,” Sundquist said. “I would mostly take schools out and keep track of their scores.”

Sundquist added that most times, competitors were challenged to hit a pair of shots.

“It’s four or six on shooting clays,” she said. “It’s like 25, take a break, then another 25 because they do a round of 50. I don’t have my gun training, so I just do the scoring part of it. Most of the FFA kids would go out and shoot their rounds when they’d get a break between teams. Then they’d come back and help out.”

Marshall High School freshman Levi Van Keulen joined the trapshooting team this year.

“My brothers (Trevor and Brett) are in it,” he said. “They said a whole bunch of good things about it, so I wanted to try it. It’s been a good experience.”

As a volunteer, Van Keulen said he thought the FFA Shoot went well.

“Everyone’s been helping out the way they should be,” he said. “I helped with trap, duck flurry and sporting clays. We just did scoring and made sure everybody was where they were supposed to be. It went smoothly.”