Aim & Fire! CHS kids have trap shooting game
Every athlete knows the feeling. Standing alone, waiting for the competition to start, tension mixing with the need to stay calm and focused.
And then — a disc speeds through the air, a shotgun is raised and another trap shooting event is on.
Few teams in Oregon have found as much growth and success as the Canby High trap shooting team, Oregon’s defending state trap shooting champions. The Cougars are the very picture of a program that has grown from little to large in eight short years.
“My goal when we started was to just get as many kids and parents exposed to this great sport, teach them how to safely handle and store firearms,” said Chuck McClaugherty, who got the high school trap shooting train rolling in Canby. “With that, we’ve gotten tremendous support through the community. A lot of competitive shooters in the area are helping out, we have 18 coaches from the area, all volunteers. Some were on those very first teams. We also have at least 14 parents that help with scorekeeping and other parts of it.”
And that involvement has paid dividends in countless ways. McClaugherty said he had 13 athletes when he started. This year? The Cougar field a team of 68 shooters and McClaugherty said there could have been substantially more if he’d not closed registration.
“It has slowly grown every year and we probably could have had 120 athletes this year,” he said.
But how and why?
For McClaugherty, the answers are wonderfully simple — word of mouth and opportunity.
“It is a lot of our kids telling other students and athletes about how fun this is,” he explained. “And just a lot of parents telling other people that his is a fun activity they can be involved in. It’s co-ed, so everyone competes equally, everyone shoots 50 targets each week.
“There are a lot of these kids who maybe can’t do other sports for physical or other reasons, but they can compete out here,” he added. “I think a lot of them see great successes — maybe they can hit only one or two targets when they start and now can hit 10 or 20 targets. That’s exciting to see yourself get better like that.”
Wednesdays are competition days, and the Cougars are halfway through their league season. Competitions are broken into three brackets — novice, JV and varsity, so the athletes are competing with people at their same skill level. This allows them to compete comfortably.
A year ago, Canby won the state trap shooting title after being the runners-up the year before. This season, they’ve snagged a league win and a league second place as they work towards what they hope will be another state title run.
“It’s a tight race right now, but I’m hoping we can put up some good scores and climb into first place in league and put ourselves into state in June,” McClaugherty said.
Currently, there are more than 60 trap shooting teams competing in Oregon. Five of those teams’ train on the seven trap shooting fields at the Canby Rod & Gun Club — Oregon City, Molalla, Silverton, and Wilsonville-West Linn, in addition to the Cougars.
The state shooting championships, held in Hillsboro, will feature 1,300 athletes and more than 50 schools, making it the largest shooting event in the state.
“We’ve gotten a lot of support from the community,” McClaugherty said. “What I’m hoping for is that Clackamas Community College might be interested in forming a team with all these kids from the area shooting. There is a college division for trap shooting. I’d like to see these kids have an opportunity to continue on.”