Owatonna High School students will have another extracurricular option come next spring as the school board approved trap shooting on a 6-1 vote during their Monday meeting.

Dave Schroeder, who completed the application and helped make the presentation to the board in June, said "Ready to rock" with a smile on his face when asked for his reaction to the vote. He quickly added that much work must be done to have the pieces in place for the season, which begins in late March or early April. He will be looking for firm commitments from coaches and will hold informational meetings for interested students. Schroeder said he was pretty confident entering the meeting after submitting a thorough application and answering board member questions at the June meeting.

The program will be run through Community Education as some other local districts have done to get the sport going. He believes there may be a limit of 50 shooters in the first year to keep it manageable. There must be one coach for every 10 athletes. The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League oversees the sport, which has grown to be the second-highest participation sport in the state, behind football. The MSHSCTL holds an all-comers state tournament in June in Alexandria that is the largest shooting event in the world. The Minnesota State High School League also sponsors a state tournament and was the first high school league in the nation to do so.

The Owatonna Gun Club will be the host location for the Huskies. Several other local teams already shoot there. Competitions are virtual. Teams shoot every week on their home course and scores are entered online and compared to the other teams in their conference. Leagues are made up of teams with a similar number of shooters and are not based on school enrollment. Fifty shooters would put Owatonna in Class 5A with schools such as Austin, Monticello, Burnsville, Delano, Norwood Young America, White Bear Lake and Perham based on spring 2016 numbers. There are eight classes of trap shooting teams across the state. Hastings had more than 100 athletes on their team.

Students must have their firearms safety certificate to participate. Teams are divided into varsity, junior varsity and novice to accommodate different skill levels. The sport is for male and female shooters, who participate side by side. Competition consists of five shooters in a squad each taking five shots at clay targets from five positions for a total of 25 shots. Each shooter takes two rounds per week.

Trap shooting is held just one time per week and many districts allow students to also participate in other spring sports.

The league has grown from three school and about 30 students less than 10 years ago to more than 300 schools and more than 10,000 shooters this past spring. There is also a more informal fall league that does not have a state tournament. Owatonna will not compete in the fall league this year. Most Big Nine school have the sport. Medford, Blooming Prairie, NRHEG and Triton all offer trap shooting.

Roy Koenig, Townsquare Media