clayEarlier this year #3 of 5 came home with a flier from school.  The flyer was for a new (to our district) extra-circular activity that was being offered to the junior high and high school students.  He told us that was interested in joining, but was a little apprehensive about asking us because of the associated cost.  He first brought it up to the Mother of Five who told #3 of 5 to speak to me about it – which he did. 

I have to admit, the cost is noticeably more expensive than the “typical” extra-circular activity - and that did give me a pause.  Yet, when asked why he was interested in this particular activity, he was able to articulate a number of good reasons why he wanted to join.  #3 of 5 was told that the Mother of Five and I would have to talk about it, and thanked him for bringing it to us.  We talked about it, and decided to find a way to make it happen.  What is this extra-circular activity? 160_Logo-Sidebar


It’s the MSHSCTL.

MSHSCTL stands for…
Minnesota State High School Clay Target League




After #3 of 5 and I (together) signed up for and passed the Minnesota Firearms Safety class, he told us that he was interested in joining the 4-H shooting club.  We liked the idea, but since it was “off season” it went on the back burner, only later to be forgotten by all.   When he asked about the school’s league I was not completely surprised.

The district held an informational meeting where we were given all the pertinent info and required forms, and learned all about how our school district got involved into the league.  The coaches (who, interestingly enough, were also our Firearms Safety Instructors) went above and beyond to get this all set up and operational.  They had to work with the League and the School District to initiate this new activity.  Then, once established, they are also volunteering their time as coaches too!

Both the coaches bring years of knowledge, experience, and experience in various forms of shooting sports to share with the students. 

The team has had two “classroom” sessions.  The first one covered “fundamentals” (a refresher on gun safety, and the basics of leading, shot placement, and follow through) and the second session was all about shotgun chokes, shot patterning and pattern density.  The kids all got to “pattern” their guns see the what their gun is shooting like.

Then, we had the first practice held at the River Valley Trap range.  The kids were broken up into squads of five.  Each squad was able to run one round.

A little bit about Trap Shooting.

Trap Shooting Range

A trap range has five shooting positions and a centralized “trap house” that the clay pigeons are launched from.  Each member of the squad takes a shooting position on the range.  Starting with the left position (standing behind), the first shooter indicates he/she is ready by shouting “pull”.  The puller releases the clay (which varies the clay’s trajectory each pull) and the shooter fires.  This is repeated with the second through fifth shooters.  After each position has fired five times, the shooters rotate one position and another five round per shooter cycle is started.  This is repeated until each of the five shooters has had an opportunity to shoot five shots at each of the five positions.  In the photo to the right, #3 of 5 is shooting in position #4 (the second shooter from the right)

Missed clayThis was #3 of 5’s first REAL opportunity to fire my shotgun.  Last year’s duck season was overbooked, and we never made it out.  The year before that (the year he got his firearm safety certificate) we went out, but had no real shooting opportunities.  At this practice, I watched as the first three clays gently drifted out after he took his shot, and I began to get a little worried.  He was successful in breaking a few by the end of his round – he finished with a score of 7/25…  Not the best, but for being his first time behind the trigger, it could have been a lot worse too.  I look at it this way.  He has five years worth of practice ahead of him!   


217268_2004334747982_1232038102_32391654_5358818_nOf course – with a new team in town, comes some news coverage (especially in a small town like ours)!  ScoreboardMN did a STORY on the team with an accompanying photo SLIDE SHOW.  Our local newspaper also did a short little BLURB on it as well (with hopefully more coverage to follow – although you can be sure there will be a bit of coverage here on Father-of-Five). 

From my perspective as a parent I have to say how exciting it has been to watch my son getting involved in the team's inaugural season.  In fact, I may go as far as saying I’m a little bit jealous.  I would have LOVED to have had this opportunity as a teen, and now as an adult – I’d love to find a casual group that is in need of a middle aged, slightly shy (socially anxious), mediocre (at best) shooter.   (If you know of one, be sure to contact me with the info!)


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  1. Very cool. Never heard of such a league. I own no firearms and have never hunted. Hunting seems like it would take time (and money) I don't have, but I'd at least like to own a gun or two... while Americans still can! My Grandpas (both maternal and paternal) were rural folks and owned numerous guns and my Dad has several... I'm the first gunless generation. My Dad used to hunt, but my Grandpa passed away just about the time I was old enough to start joining them, and my Dad hasn't bought a license since.

  2. I never grew up hunting. Fishing, yes... Hunting - no.

    Then early on after first meeting my "Best Bud Ed" he dragged me along. I was hooked ever since. I came home from my first trip to their cabin (as an observer) and immediatly put a gun on lay-a-way (working in a small hardware store had it's advantages).

    That gun is the same one that #3 of 5 is shooting in those photos... It's a Master-Mag 880 20 gauge pump action (made by Mossberg). I have a Mossberg 835 12 gauge (which I do not like and will one day (with the right time and money) trade in on a little nicer gun).

    I also have a old Mossberg 190 16 gauge bolt action that belonged to my grandfather. I am in the process of restoring that gun (it needs some TLC)...


  3. How exciting! You know how I love high school sports, no matter what they are!


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