OLD WASHINGTON − Shooting sports have exploded in popularity among young people over the last decade and have continued to experience an amazing level of support and growth. Making it the fastest-growing high school extracurricular activity in the nation.
A look at the numbers shows that during the 2021-22 school year, a total of 43,009 participants competed on 1, 466 teams in 34 states throughout the United States.
Now, the fast-growing sport has made its way to Guernsey County — thanks in large part to the efforts of head coach Devani Roe — with the formation of a team at Buckeye Trail High School.
"In the summer of 2022, I along with several other Buckeye Trail parents, had kids participating in a club team called the HotShot Club Trap Shooting Team," Roe said. "We had eight Buckeye Trail kids participating, and we wondered why it was not a high school sport because there was obviously interest within our school. From that conversation, I started to reach out to start the process of how to get a high school team started."
Putting the wheels in motion
Roe did her research and set about putting together a plan to bring a team to Buckeye Trail.
"I applied with the Ohio High School Clay Target League (OHSCTL), and one of the things that you have to have is a letter of approval from the Superintendent or Athletic Director to use the school's name," Roe said. "Both former superintendent Chase Rosser and AD Aaron Bates supported the plan. The East Guernsey Board of Education gave consent to use the name and start the first ever Buckeye Trail High School Clay Target Shooting team."
The OHSCTL offers a spring league, starting in early-April with a state tournament held in June, as well as a fall season which runs from September to November with no state tournament. Seasons are nine weeks long, with each shooter required to shoot 50 rounds per week. The scores are then submitted electronically to the OHSCTL. Teams can be made up of any student from grades 6-12.
Although the OHSTSA follows similar beliefs and operations to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, this is not a sanctioned sport. That’s why teams are designated as an activity or club. The league’s goal is to have the OHSAA recognize and support a state tournament like other high school sports.
This is typically achieved with a high number of participation of member schools, a track record of success, and a formal presentation to and approval by the OHSAA's board of directors.
"The OHSAA does not recognize trap shooting as a sport; therefore, East Guernsey did not recognize it as a sport. It is currently considered a club, but we are hoping that if more teams develop throughout the state, OHSAA will consider making it a recognized varsity sport," Roe offered. "The Buckeye Trail Athletic Department did decide to allow us to give our high school athletes varsity letters for their letterman jackets which was very exciting for them."
Everything runs through the OHSCTL
Everything is run through the OHSCTL. They take into consideration the number of students in your school, the number of shooters each school has and the experience of those shooters then place each team in a particular conference. There is no specific league since everyone competes through the OHSCTL.
On the trap shooting line, there are five shooters. They are called a squad. Each week during the season athletes are required to shoot 50 targets, usually two sets of 25. All members compete every week. The winner for each week is the shooter who hits the most targets out of 50. The winner can vary from week to week.
Based on the average of the first three weeks, the coaches start to group athletes together based on their ability to hit a target consistently. By putting together athletes at the same level of ability, this builds confidence and work ethic within each athlete and the squad. And at the end of the season, the average from throughout the year is used to determine the overall winner from the group.
A fun family experience
Most athletic teams like to describe themselves as having a team feeling, which holds true for the Buckeye Trail squad with three sets of siblings on the roster.
"We have six middle schoolers and six high school students on the team," Roe explained. "We also had three girls on the team. Then we have our family touch, McGlumphy's are brothers, the Roes are sisters and the Neuharts are brother and sister. Something the whole family can do."
Team members include senior Noah Betts, Jackson Hess, Alex McGlumphy, Delanie Roe, Braden St. Clair, eighth graders Andrew McGlumphy, Darcie Roe, Trey Yanosik, seventh grader Samuel Gray and sixth graders Tanner Neff, and Van Neuhart. Roe's coaching staff includes Tom Lanning, Cory Yanosik, Steve St. Clair, Justin Sheppard, and Dusty Roe.
Safety first in the OHSCTL
While the combination of young student athletes handling guns, safety concerns naturally come to the forefront. But to date, there have been no incidents reported, according to the OHSCTL.
All student athletes are required to complete and submit certificates for either one of two league-approved firearm safety certification programs – a state-approved hunter education certificate or the League’s SAFE Certification. Either option requires the firearm safety certification information to be documented in Athlete Management System (AMS) before the athlete can participate in any shooting activities with the team.
With more than 100,000 student athletes that have participated and shot hundreds of millions of times, there has been no reported injuries since the league started in 2001.
"It is one of the fastest-growing sports right now and one of the safest," Roe said. "Safety is a top priority, of course, all the kids are required to be certified and go through the training."
Reasons vary for signing up
Several of the Buckeye Trail team members explained their reason for giving the new sport a try:
Noah Betts (12th grade): "I enjoy shooting, and I had been on a different club team for a couple years. I thought it was pretty cool to be part of the first ever trap shooting team at Buckeye Trail."
Darcie Roe (8th grade): "I started shooting because my mom started the team, and I wanted toshoot with my sister Delanie and best friend Vayda."
Tanner Neff (6th grade): "My dad takes me hunting a lot. I love to do it, so when we heard about thisteam we decided it would be a good thing for me to join. I also like the challenge of doing it."
A successful first season for the Warriors
Buckeye Trail competed in its first season this spring and finished with a 67% shooting accuracy, with Betts leading the team at 87.6%.
"I thought the season went really well for being our first time," Roe said. "Our kids put in a lot of time and dedication this season. I hope this sport continues to grow and more students get involved.
"Next year we hope to field be able a separate high school and middle school teams," Roe explained. "Our kids are very excited and anxious to keep learning. We took off this current fall season, but plan to hit it hard with the upcoming spring. We're looking forward to continue to grow our program."
KSutton1@gannett.com; Twitter: @KSuttonDJSports; Instagram: kevinsutton_dailyjeffsports
This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: Buckeye Trail brings high school trap shooting to Guernsey County