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Trapshooting: Minnesota West takes aim at clay targets

WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota West Community and Technical College baseball coach TD Hostikka hasn’t done a lot of trapshooting since his school days. But he plans to take up the shotgun again before fall.

The incentive is ready-made. Hostikka will coach the first season of Bluejay coed clay target shooting beginning this year, so he needs to kick off the rust and deepen his knowledge of the sport.

“I remember way back when my grandfather taught me how to do it (at the age of 12),” Hostikka said this week. “But I guess these kids already know that stuff.”

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) is teaming up with the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League to introduce clay targets as a new sanctioned sport. The season will begin a little before Labor Day and continue through mid-October.

Minnesota West will access Worthington Gun Club facilities for its shooting, but gun clubs in Marshall and Canby might also be used. Competitions will operate much like they do for high school events, with shooters recording their scores locally and sending them to the league where they can be compared with other schools.

Local Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited groups, along with interested individuals, plan to help Minnesota West with fundraising efforts.

Hostikka said the northern colleges spearheaded the introduction of clay shooting to the MCAC, and the sport provides a win-win for Minnesota West in that it offers students a new team experience as it encourages more students to enroll.

MCAC Executive Director Peter Watkins was quoted recently, “It allows schools to expand their ‘brand’ and school pride to a whole population in and around their communities. Clay target student-athletes and their families are connecting with the school, buying sweatshirts, coming onto campus more often, and learning about the education options at the colleges, much like we see in other sport populations.”

Clay target teams consist of teams of five taking turns aiming at targets traveling at more than 40 mph. College shooters, said Hostikka, will typically shoot a couple of practice rounds per week.

To lure both men and women to the team, the local college plans to place posters around local campuses. After the first year, more sophisticated recruitment efforts may occur.

“There’s such a huge number of high school shooters in the state of Minnesota. We’ve got one of the largest numbers of shooters in the country,” said the new Bluejays shooting coach. “Our goal is to get 10 (team members). We’re at two or three now, without putting a single poster out.”

Hostikka said he’s got a commitment from at least one exceptional clay target enthusiast already -- a Truman student who’s also planning to play for the West baseball team, who was a top-10 shooter in high school.

“I have some baseball players who are avid outdoorsmen,” Hostikka said.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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