TORRINGTON – Southeast High School student Hunter Howe has made a name for himself, not only locally, but nationally for his clay target shooting.
Most recently, Howe claimed top honors as the Wyoming State Doubles champion, Wyoming State Handicap champion, Wyoming State High Overall and Wyoming State High All-around champion last week at the Wyoming State Shoot in Laramie.
His success also spreads nationally, placing in the top 10 nationally in his age division for the past two years, including winning his age group a year ago.
“It’s all based on a points system, on how well you do at each shoot,” Howe said. “They take your top seven scores.”
His travels take him far and wide, traveling from Vernal, Utah to Mitchell, S.D. to Laramie, estimating he’ll participate in close to nine events, not including smaller, local shoots.
“Starting the first week of June, it’s every week,” Howe said.
Each weekend he competes in three events, singles, doubles and handicap, and over the course of the weekend will shoot 1,000 targets, not including any practice or shoot-offs.
Going into his junior year at Southeast, he hopes to get more people involved in the sport by starting a high school team in Goshen County.
Currently, there are only four other schools in the state with clay target teams in the USA Clay Target League.
Three off the four schools are located in the Northeast corner of the state – Hulett, Upton and Sundance – while Wheatland High School is the closest in proximity to Torrington.
Wheatland had 11 members on the squad this spring, according to coach Angie Kernan.
“We would love more teams,” Kernan said. “It’s only fun if you have competition. We would love to see the whole state of Wyoming doing this.”
Kernan has had talks with Douglas, Casper and Laramie about getting on board and starting teams for the upcoming season, and she now has close to 30 Wheatland students interested in participating heading into the team’s second season which will begin in the spring of 2020.
“This year was the first year the state of Wyoming had a high school trap league, and last week, here in Torrington, they had the Wyoming State Trap Shoot,” Howe said. “I want to draw more awareness around here. I know we can some other kids involved. I think we could get a Goshen County team together.”
The four teams just wrapped up their season with the state shoot, which was held at the Goshen County Trap Club at the end of June.
“We are talking with Tim Williams at Southeast right now. They are wanting to know about the liability end of it. We need their permission to use their school name,” Sean Howe, Hunter’s father said. “It’s another outlet. Everyone has this phobia of guns, and we need to try and change that.”
Williams said it would be similar to how high school rodeo is handled.
“It’s not an official WHSAA sport,” Williams said. “If they get it going, the kids would be able to do it, but it would be outside of school. We don’t do anything with rodeo. It would be like a club team.”
USA Clay Target League began in 2000 with three teams and 30 participants. It has only grown from there, ending the 2018 season with more than 26,000 participants competiting for 804 teams in 19 states, making it one of the fastest-growing high school extracurricular activity in the nation, according to the league’s site.
“I would love to see something put together,” Hunter said. “Nebraska had 4,200 kids at their high school shoot.”
“We have one of the nicest shooting clubs in the state, and it would be nice to utilize it more,” his father added.