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Bronc Bird Busters invites students to have a blast

January 16, 2018 GMT

BELLE FOURCHE — The new Bronc Bird Busters Belle Fourche High School trapshooting team is aiming to add more trophies to the school’s display cases and seeks students who want to try their hand at trapshooting, a competitive clay shooting sport.

Stephanie Crowley and her husband, Clint, who coordinate the Lawrence County 4-H Sharpshooters Club that their freshman-aged son participates in, were part of a group who worked to make the team’s vision a reality.

“Our family, in general, has gotten involved with shotgun (competitions),” she said.

After recently finding out that there was a state high school trapshooting league, a board of directors was assembled and the group researched and undertook the process to bring the sporting option to local students in the Belle Fourche area.

The Crowleys, along with Dean Hauk, Kelly Singer, and Pat McKenna, comprise the board.

Although the club is not affiliated with or sponsored by the Belle Fourche School District, the Belle Fourche School Board approved the addition of the new “non-school athletic organization” for grades 7-12 last fall and agreed to “Letter” recognition for participants who earn it.

As such, participants are required to adhere to the same athletic requirements and standards that the other sports teams are held to. The club is structured similarly to high school rodeo competitors in terms of the group’s affiliation with the school district. Participants can letter in the new activity but the school district does not fund any portion of its costs. The board will manage all aspects of the team.

“And that way, even if they’re not a volleyball, football, or track person, they still have the opportunity in high school to letter in something and be recognized as participating on a team sport,” Crowley said.

Crowley said that with local shooting clubs struggling to keep membership numbers up, the creation of a youth team who would utilize the space was a good place to start. Garnering interest in shooting sports at younger age, Crowley hopes, will help rebuild the usage of shooting clubs locally.

Additionally, Crowley said, not every student is interested in the typical school sponsored sports activities.

“Not everybody is inclined to run up and down a field or court,” she said. “They don’t like to do that; it’s just not something that they’re designed for. But this (trapshooting), pretty much anybody can do it.”

The activity is open to any level of experience and ability and family-oriented.

“This sport has a tendency to get family involved pretty easily,” she said. “We encourage the family to come in and help to coach.”

The participants compete in a nine-week spring shooting season where the group will assemble to shoot one to two nights per week and the coaches turn in each shooter’s weekly score online.

“It’s kind of a competition throughout other schools around the state, and it’s done online,” Crowley said.

Competitors are ranked for the state competition in June based on their season average scores. All participants will be given the opportunity to go to the state competition in June.

“Even if you’re only shooting five out of 50, there’s still a category for you to go to state,” Crowley said.

In each trapshooting field, five shooters line up in a semicircle. When ready, the first shooter says, “Pull!” and the typically bright-colored clay target sails up at 42 mph in a randomly selected pattern. One round of trap consists of 25 clay pigeons. During competition each participant shoots two rounds and are scored out of a maximum of 50 points.

“There’s not a lot of guess work, you hit it or you don’t hit it,” Crowley said.

The participants will have some flexibility, Crowley said, as shooting ranges in both Belle Fourche and Spearfish have agreed to let the team utilize their ranges to practice and compete.

“It’s going to kind of depend where we’re going to do that, based on how many kids we get signed up and what levels (of experience) we have,” she said.

Although Crowley said that the group, one of the first of its kind west-river, didn’t yet have any official registrants, she knows of at least 20 who are interested so far.

“It seems like the more kids are talking about it, there’s more interest brewing about it,” she said.

The organization is in the process of making application to become a nonprofit organization

“The 501c3 will open us up to more opportunities like NRA (National Rifle Association) grants and different things that could help to fund things,” she said.

The benefits of participation, Crowley said, include safety education, sportsmanship, maturity, confidence-building, and general life skills.

“They learn to slow down; they learn to focus,” she said. “I hear things back from parents that say, ‘We went hunting and my son was amazing. He sat down, he got in his position, he took his breath, and then he shot.’ With shooting sports, I feel that they’re not just learning to shoot; they learn a life skill.”

Registration for the program’s flagship year is open now and will run through Feb. 15. Practices are scheduled to begin the first week of April.

All participants will be required to provide their own shotgun, complete a safety-training course before April 1, and pay a $250 registration fee.

As one of the first schools in the area to have the program, Crowley hopes the program will be successful and that others will follow suit.

Those interested in joining the Bronc Bird Busters or have questions, contact Stephanie Crowley via phone (605) 381-0046 or email sccrowley95@gmail.com.

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