Freshman Mitchell Trisler shoots the first round of clay target. He works hard at every practice to improve every round.
Freshman Mitchell Trisler shoots the first round of clay target. He works hard at every practice to improve every round.
Photo by Ava Biederman

Clay Target shoots up positivity

The loud crackle of gravel under the feet of the participants becomes louder before the clay pigeon is about to be set off. A quiet and muffled “pull” can be heard from the distance. The pigeon sets off. Then a large boom can be heard and a flying small orange disk is broken into a bunch of pieces.

The clay target team consists of about 45 members and they have an opportunity to sign up for practice rounds at the Oakdale Gun Club on Thursdays and Sundays. The coaches stay all afternoon on Thursdays and very late into the morning on Sundays to help accommodate all athletes’ schedules. Team members can also sign up for tournaments to compete against other schools. If they do well they have a chance of qualifying for nationals.

One round of clay target consists of 25 shots. Each participant gets five tries at each of the five stations. Their score is calculated and the player who has hit the most amount of targets is the winner. At every practice, everyone gets one to two rounds for practice. Then at competitions, there are anywhere between two and four rounds. Whoever has the highest amount of points for all of the rounds is the overall winner of his or her division.

The team cannot only connect inside, but also outside of the range. The coaches work to plan team bonding events that allow for all the players to meet up at once.

Senior Melanie Johnson explained many bonding events has been planned for the whole team. In addition to bingo night they also do shooting events that creates a fun healthy competition between teammates.

Many families connect with the team. Many team members play with siblings or other family members, while other families connect by becoming coaches or helping out with volunteering when needed.

Siblings and parents play a big role within the sport. “I would not want to do it without him [brother],” Johnson explained.

Many parents become passionate about the team. “My dad became a coach and my mom comes to lots of practices,” Johnson said.

We like to have fun, but always in a safe way.”

— Valerie Stickan

The atmosphere has an diverse group of students and ages that creates an welcoming environment for any nervous first timers. There are athletes of all levels who join the team and coaches work with each student individually to meet their goals. Furthermore, having a lot of different kinds of students helps make the team a better environment for people who are first coming to try. Seeing all kinds of students playing the makes the teams appearance more welcoming.

The team dynamic has a “wide variety” of participants junior Lucas Vorlicky said. All things vary for the team, like age, skill level or even individual goals.

The athletes encourage one another throughout practices. The team members congratulate one another after a good round and help talk teammates up after a bad one.

“Our team does a good job of encouraging every shooter,” Clay Target coach Valerie Stickan explained. The team ensures every athlete feels uplifted and inspired at practice.

Safety is a big thing for the team. Coaches and athletes work together to make sure they have a fun, but safe environment to practice in.

“We like to have fun, but always in a safe way” Stickan said. The coaches make sure the athletes are safe and having fun.

Clay target allows for kids to create fond memories that they will remember for many years to come. Athletes work together and then go to tournaments that erupt for opportunities of memories.

Vorlicky explained how his most cherish-able memory from his two years on the team was the Alexandria tournament. He was able to get his first truck that he bought himself in between the two rounds he shot.

Johnson has been on the team for six years and she has created many memories over those years. Her favorite was having an opportunity to go to nationals. It gave her a chance to go to a new place and try new things.

The clay target team always brings energy to practice and helps one another out. They also use their team building/bonding skills to create an atmosphere that anyone is welcome in. Families and athletes are able to give out tips to beginners, making everyone improve. The team creates an environment full of connectivity.

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