WILTON, Iowa–Though it may surprise some, trapshooting represents one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, particularly at the collegiate level. For the past several years, Wilton Junior-Senior High School students, including those who otherwise might not consider playing a team sport, have had the opportunity to learn and compete in this unique event. This season, the team has shot well at a number of meets and has set their sights on returning to the state trapshooting championship.
Unlike many team sports, trapshooting teams can accommodate a large number of participants at a time and can easily adapt for children with special needs, particularly those who use wheelchairs. This year, the Wilton trap team has 43 members ranging in age from fifth graders to seniors in high school who compete in several different divisions. “It gives all kids an opportunity to compete,” emphasized head coach Mark Henning.
To get students into good habits early, the Wilton trap team focuses on the importance of shooting safely at each of their practices. Over the past 10 years, neither the team, nor the Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program which governs trapshooting competitions in Iowa, has experienced an injury.
Though the Wilton trap team fully funds all of their own activities through generous donations from local sponsors and fundraisers they hold, they operate as a school hosted activity. Practically speaking, this means that participating students must maintain the same or higher grade requirements than other students competing in sports do, helping them to develop strong academic and time management skills.
A spring sport, students typically begin practicing in March at the Muscatine Izaak Walton League and then compete at tournaments around the region on weekends and smaller dual meets on some weeknights. Students have the opportunity to compete in single, double, and handicap events and to place both individually and as a team, based on combined scores.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Iowa Scholastic Clay Target Program’s state trapshooting championship, they plan to resume the event this year, and Henning looks forward to bringing many members of the team to this event. In order to participate, team members must have attended at least six practices during the regular season, making it more accessible than many state events. Interested students who qualify will travel to Cedar Falls from June 8 though 13 to complete against other trap shooters from across the state. In past years, as many as 4,000 kids have competed, though Henning predicts fewer will attend this year.
Throughout its history, members of the Wilton trap team have placed well in competitions, to the point that college recruiters frequently contact them. Additionally, Henning’s two children, who shoot with the team, have both competed in Junior Olympics and plan to attend the Junior Olympic qualifier this year as well. With the popularity of trapshooting only continuing to grow, the Wilton trap team has poised itself for future success. The team regularly posts their results to their Facebook page and Henning encourages you to view them there.