Future of Rushford-Peterson Trapshooting program is unclear

By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

Questions surrounding the future of the Rushford-Peterson trapshooting program have been raised at recent school board meetings. 

Disputed numbers on the cost of the program led to a debate on whether or not the school should be funding trap the same way it does other extracurricular activities.  To further complicate matters, it’s unclear whether the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) fully embraces trap shooting as a sanctioned event.

“To be honest, the state high school league has dipped their toes into the sport, but they’re not helping the cause at all,” said R-P FFA Advisor and volunteer trap coach Colby Lind. “They want a sanctioned championship but they don’t want to take ownership of the whole sport. 

“Trapshooting has evolved since we started it at Rushford-Peterson,” Lind said. “It’s been a great activity for the kids. If I were to look on the Minnesota State High School League website, trap is listed there. I know I’m a little biased because I’m directly involved but I don’t know how to look at it any other way.”

In a financial report shown at the June R-P School Board meeting, a chart indicated the trap program was $6,000 in the red. Lind not only disputes the figure he maintains that the goal in any of the other sports isn’t to be revenue-producing for the district. Lind said it’s all about investing in the future of the kids, which he says “isn’t free.” 

Lind also contends that trapshooting is important because it fills a critical niche. “Not everybody is an athlete,” he said. “Kids that don’t have the talent to thrive in mainstream athletics often do very well in trap. There are athletes on the team that participate in multiple sports. However, it’s more important to the kids that have nothing else than it is for kids involved in multiple activities. 

“Studies have shown that kids behave better, they get better grades, and they stay out of trouble with the law, which are all things we want our kids to do. If we can give kids who are doing nothing an opportunity to get involved in something, that’s huge,” he added. 

Lind points out that the trap team does its own fundraising. While school board reports say the program showed a loss, he says there are $4,000 worth of assets at the shooting range, including ammunition and targets, lowering the cost of the program significantly. Lind also says “some wires got crossed” on user fees, noting that there are some fees that still need to be paid, further cutting in to the cost of the program once they’re collected.

Other area schools typically don’t fund their trap shooting team, and most view it as a club sport. The R-P school district did pay for the trap team’s trip to the Minnesota High School League championship, but didn’t cover costs for the team to attend the Minnesota Clay Target League championship, the qualifying event for the championship. Lind said the district would be a leader if it became the first school to fund the trap program.

“Why not be leaders among a lot of area school districts by fully funding this and grabbing a hold of something that has grown every year?” Lind asked. “It’s a sport that’s obviously not going to go away. We would be leaders and following our motto of ‘Always Our Best.’”

There is support for doing that on the R-P School Board, including Director Dean Mireau, who made a motion during the July school board meeting to pay a coach and fully fund the program. That motion died for lack of a second.

“Participation is extremely good,” Mierau said. “We need to spend more time looking into ways that we can continue to support the program. I’m talking to the other board members in an attempt to make that support happen.”

While administrators are quick to recognize that the program has been very popular among students, it looks like Trojan trap shooting will maintain, at least in the short term, its standing as a club sport.

“While we recognize it as an activity that is growing in popularity in our area and around the state, it’s not a fully-sanctioned activity by the Minnesota State High School League,” said Activities Director Dan Bieberdorf. 

“For this reason, it will maintain its status as a ‘club’ activity, similar to Youth Bowling and J-O volleyball. We really appreciate the efforts of the volunteer coaches and we hope that it continues to be an activity that many students continue to participate in,” Bieberdorf added.

Lind said he and Superintendent Chuck Ehler were given an assignment from the school board to put together a budget for the trap program, with the topic to be discussed at a future meeting.