Clintonville shoots in virtual league
By Bert Lehman
New this year for Clintonville High School students was the opportunity to shoot in a trap league.
Clintonville resident Jim Dins, who has been in charge on a youth trap team in Clintonville for 10 years, said he heard about the high school trap leagues but the first one he researched was located in the Oshkosh area.
“There you have to travel,” Dins said. “There was no way I could travel with my team and go all the way to all these schools.”
More research yielded Dins with information about the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League, which is a virtual league that is sanctioned by the WIAA.
When I heard about the virtual league I thought this was the way to go,” Dins said.
There are eight teams in Clintonville’s conference. Schools represented in the conference include: Sauk Prairie High School, Superior High School, Wolf River Lutheran High School, Turtle Lake High School, Washburn High School, Royall High School and Mishicot High School.
Each week teams compete head-to-head, but they don’t have to travel. The teams shoot at local facilities and then compare scores.
“We don’t travel at all,” Dins said. “Otherwise it just wasn’t possible.”
Not having to travel saves on travel expenses, but it does have its drawbacks.
“It’s not as fun not shooting against your competitors,” Dins said. “Let’s face it, the team we are shooting against tonight, it might be sunny and calm, and we’re shooting in wind and rain.”
The CHS trap team has nine members, eight from Clintonville and one from Wittenberg.
Each week, each team member shoots at 50 clay pigeons. The top eight scores are used when comparing scores against the other team.
Dins said this puts the CHS team at a disadvantage because it has less shooter scores to choose from.
Team members initially paid $30 to join the league. They also pay $15 each week. This covers two boxes of shells and two rounds of clay pigeons.
Dins, the advisor for the team, said there are 46 trap teams and more than 800 shooters in the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League. He said Minnesota has more than 10,000 shooters.
“It’s really growing fast in Wisconsin,” Dins said.
He added that he had hoped more students would have joined the team during its first season, as he thought he would have around 20 students on the team.
“You can actually allow grade school kids, sixth, seventh and eighth grade, to shoot in the high school league,” Dins said. “I didn’t really solicit that because I didn’t want to have too many kids the first year.”
Dins said he will allow grade school students on the team next year. He said he’d also like to open it up to students from Marion.
The state tournament is June 11 in Rome, just south of Wisconsin Rapids.
The CHS trap team consists mostly of students who have previously participated in the Clintonville Youth Trap League operated by Dins.
That league will start its 11th year on May 24. The season runs through Aug. 30. Competition takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays at the Clintonville Trap Club.
The summer league is split into age brackets. Participants can be 12 years old and shoot until they are 19. Participants also don’t have to shoot every week, unlike the high school league, where they must compete every week.
“If you miss a week it doesn’t matter,” Dins said. “You have to shoot at least half of the Tuesdays to qualify for the trophies.”
To participate in the summer league there is a one-time $10 fee, and then a fee of $5 per week to cover one box of shells, a round of clay pigeons and a soda. People generally also donate pizza each week, Dins said.
“We have the guns, ear plugs, and glasses. We have everything,” Dins said.
Dins also stressed the importance of safety. A safety officer is present at all times when team members are shooting. The safety officer can’t be a coach. There are coaches on hand to help team members.
“They’ll figure out if you are left or right eye dominant. They’ll make sure the gun fits you properly and they’ll teach you how to stand,” Dins said about the coaches.
Those who are inexperienced at trap shooting but want to learn, are encouraged to join the summer league, Dins said.
“This is such a hunting community,” Dins said. “I would rather have the kids know how to use guns better.”
Hunter safety is encouraged, Dins added.
The state tournament for the summer league is July 17.