NORTH CRAWFORD - About 20 students from North Crawford Schools will participate in a trapshooting league this spring, which will include teams from Boscobel, Prairie du Chien Kickapoo, Westby, DeSoto, Weston and Wonewoc Center.
The club, which recently received a $500 donation in seed money from the North Crawford School Board, has consistently fielded 20 students per week for the fall practice session.
This fall’s roster included, Seventh grade: Deyton Blaha, Satchel McClurg, Hunter Robinson; Eighth grade: Keegan Bender, Faye Brassington, Kaeden Chellevold, Beau Jelinek, Wyatt Jones, Sever Stovey; Freshmen: Chase Baumeister, Thomas McCormick, Adam Robinson, Jace Roys, Raiden Steele; Sophomore: Matt Cody; Juniors: Gracie Babb, Riley Chellevold, Brent Jelinek, Gabe McCann, Sandon McClurg, Gavin Schell, Grant Smith; and Seniors: Cameron Steyer, Jonathan Volden.
The team is coached by Dave Benzing of Outback Shotgun and Sports, rural Seneca. He is assisted by Range Safety Officer Jeff McCullick. James (Jimmer) Chellevold is a major facilitator of the team, and he and Bob Robinson are parent volunteers and score keepers.
“It’s a cool experience, and lots of fun,” Riley Chellevold said. “I look forward to competing.
“I’m very happy that there’s a team now,” Grant Smith said. “I like coming out and shooting with my friends.”
“The trap team is a lot of fun,” Matt Cody said. “This is my second year. Last year, I shot for Seneca, and I have improved my shooting a lot this year. I’m happy to have trap shooting as a sport in my school – I’m into hunting, and shooting in the trap league gives me extra practice.”
“Trap shooting is fun,” Sandon McClurg said. “I grew up with hunting. I started 10 years ago with my grandpa, and I want to follow in his footsteps. This is what kids like to do – get together and shoot. I always wanted to do this, and it is great to have it as a sport.”
Gavin Schell’s uncle is Jimmer Chellevold. Both his uncle and his grandpa, Jim Chellevold, are volunteer mentors with the program.
“I’ve really increased my shooting skills with the trap team,” Schell said. “I look forward to competing in the spring.”
Competition in spring
The team will start competition in spring of 2018. They will start practice in the month of April, and then will have five weeks of competition in May, followed by the state competition on June 9 in Rome, Wisconsin, near Wisconsin Rapids.
The latest development is that in 2018, there will also be a national championship competition. The competition will take place in Mason, Michigan, in July 2018.
Call to action
James (Jimmer) Chellevold and his wife Chanda had talked about helping to get a trapshooting team going at North Crawford for years. When his wife Chanda suggested they try to sign kids up for a team at the Open House event held by the school in August, Jimmer agreed.
“After talking with my wife and Dave Benzing, I decided to move forward,” Chellevold said. “I was very pleased when 32 kids signed up expressing interest in participating.”
Benzing has provided a practice space for a Seneca trapshooting team for the last few years, as well as coaching and mentoring.
“In Seneca, we had a good team, but our shooters gradually drifted away into other high school sports, and the team lost its momentum,” Benzing said. “I was feeling pretty discouraged until Jimmer talked with me about his plans for North Crawford. This has really breathed new life into me.”
Benzing reports that he is pleased and excited by the high level of support this new team is receiving from family and the community.
“We are seeing two or three parents or grandparents at each shooting session, and that support really helps the club to function effectively and safely,” Benzing said. “It’s great to talk to all those folks. And the kids, who have such great eyesight and reflexes, are a joy to work with.”
Benzing shared that at times, he looks back on his life, and thinks with appreciation about all the folks who helped him along the way.
“My goal with the trap team is to touch young people’s lives,” Benzing said. “I hope someday those kids look back, and think, hey, that guy Dave was a pretty good guy, and he helped me along my way.”
Every week, the league recognizes the highest scoring shooter, the highest scoring team, and the shooter with the longest string of targets broken in a row.
Benzing noted that if there are interested students from other area schools who don’t have a squad, he would like to encourage them to contact him about joining the North Crawford team. He has heard recently that there may be a couple of students from Seneca who would like to practice and compete in the spring. Dave Benzing can be reached at 608-734-3533.
Both Benzing and Chellevold are committed to exploring all avenues for raising funds to make the sport more financially accessible for students and their families.
The group has a Youth Shooting Fund in which all funds raised are deposited for use in defraying club expenses for travel and supplies. A donation of 8,500 clays, a value of $645, was made by Jay Greene and Gays Mills Learn to Hunt, to kick the season off, and followed up by the donation from the school board.
“It basically costs us $2,000 in shells to shoot up $645 worth of clay targets,” Chellevold said. “Currently, it is costing kids about $20 per session to practice - $10 cash and two boxes of shells. And then to sign up to compete, it will cost another $35. The league at Kickapoo Schools covers all expenses except for the $35 to compete, but they have lots of big donors.”
Chellevold is seeking a local organization, which could use its tax exemption to help with the purchase of clays and shells, and also seeking cash donations from any individuals or organizations that would like to support the team. Chellevold hopes to acquire some form of team apparel to help support a feeling of team spirit.
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, Benzing had taken the team on a field trip to a hunting lodge business near Decorah, Iowa. The team had worked to raise funds for the group, throwing clays for visiting business patrons, and then gotten to shoot some rounds themselves. The group is taking a diversified approach to fundraising.
“We’re going to have a raffle in November,” Benzing said. “Tickets will be available through the kids, and at some area businesses such as Johnson’s and Greener’s Corners, and perhaps some locations in Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove.”
A varsity sport
Trapshooting as a sport is very convenient because the team really only travels if they choose to practice with another team, and for the state tournament. The rest of the time they are just able to enter their scores online each week.
The sport is open to both middle school and high school students. The sport is co-ed and open to both young men and women.
Student athletes shoot an assigned number of targets to compete in both individual and team events.
A student can letter in the sport, based on their scores. The athlete’s year-end average weekly score determines student athlete classifications. Classifications assignments include:
Novice: 0-14.99 average per round
Junior Varsity: 15-18.99 average per round
Varsity 19-25 average per round
To be eligible for the Independent Provider Extra Curricular Lettering Program, the shooting sport student athlete must meet the following criteria:
The athlete must be a student of the school and home-schooled athletes in this school district are also eligible.
The athlete must abide by the North Crawford Schools and Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League activity requirements.
The athlete must adhere to all school district rules, policies and requirements concerning student activities including, but not limited to, attendance, conduct, scholastic standing and other eligibility requirements.
The athlete must average 20 points or more per round in competition play at the end of the season. The athlete must not miss any competition weeks during the season, and may participate in the State Tournament.
The athlete must participate consistently with the team for three years or more. If a student athlete fails to adhere to the Qualification and Requirements for Lettering, the athlete forfeits the right to letter for that season.
Members of the North Crawford School Board seemed very supportive of the club at their Thursday, Oct. 26 meeting. Jim (Jimmer) Chellevold made a presentation to the board, and requested their assistance in selecting a logo for team apparel, which the kids could wear to school without violating school policies.
Brandon Munson explained to the board that the activity is considered a ‘club’ versus an ‘athletic activity sanctioned by the school district.’ He said that all participating students have signed a liability waiver with Outback Shooting and Sports, and that weapons cannot be transported in school vehicles.
Clay Target League
From the website of the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League, “The purpose of the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League is to attract students to participate in shooting sports, while creating friendly competition among high schools throughout Wisconsin. The (league) provides a safe, comfortable, and positive team environment that enhances a student athlete’s character and personal growth through safe, educational, and socially acceptable involvement in shooting sports.”
The Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League attracts student athletes to participate in shooting sports, while creating a ‘virtual’ competition among high school teams throughout Wisconsin at no cost to the schools. Family travel costs are minimal because practice and competition are conducted at a shooting range near the school’s location.
The league is also the safest sport in high school, with no reported injuries since the inception of the league in 2001.
Conferences are determined by team size rather than geographic location for fair competition. Athletes earn ‘True Team’ scoring points as determined by their performance and ranking against all athlete scores within their team’s conference. The team score and overall standings are calculated and posted on the league’s website. Athletes and their families may track their individual and team performance on their computer via the league’s website, and by the new ‘Shooter Performance Tracker’ mobile app.