TORRINGTON – Last spring was a first for Goshen County high school and middle school gun enthusiasts.
Mary and Shawn Howe stepped up to the plate to help start a trap and skeet shooting club.
Spring was the first season for the team, and the primary focus was on trap shooting. This fall, they’ve added skeet shooting to the mix.
In all, the team has 21 shooters on roster – 14 trap shooters and seven skeet – with a mix of both male and female shooters, ranging from sixth grade to seniors in high school. Southeast and Torrington high schools and middle schools are represented on the team.
“It’s been neat to see the reaction we’ve got from the start,” team coach Shawn Howe said. “With all the stuff going on right now, I’m glad they are letting us do it.”
Despite registration being closed for the fall season, the team is always looking for new members, including those who may never have shot before.
“They don’t ever have to have shot before to do this,” Howe said. “There are a lot of kids that aren’t track stars, football stars or basketball stars, but anyone can do this.”
One of the newcomers to the team this fall is Southeast senior Ethan Steinhausen, who has known the Howe family since he was in fourth grade.
“Mary and Shawn have talked about this for a while now, and they talked me into doing it. I’ve really liked it,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s a blast out here. It’s not as difficult as everyone thinks.”
The team practices on Sunday afternoons at the Goshen County Sportsmen Club, allowing someone like Steinhausen to also participate in football.
Steinhausen finds it as an adrenaline rush when he hits his target.
Since this is his senior season and it will be his only season shooting, Steinhausen has high goals and expectations for himself. He wants to hit 25 straight targets.
“I’ve come close. I’ve shot a 23, but that’s one of my biggest goals is to shoot a 25,” he said. “The wind makes it more difficult, but it’s something you have to get used to.”
On a day like Sunday, with cooler temperatures and windy conditions, it makes it more difficult to achieve that goal.
“It is, but it isn’t because it’s fun,” Steinhausen said of the added difficulty of the weather. “When you are practicing, it’s about getting better and better,”
Between now and Nov 24, Steinhausen and the rest of the team will shoot 50 targets a week and turn those scores in to the Wyoming Clay Target League.
This allows the competitors to see where they rank, not only in the state but nationally, as well.
Eventually, the team has hopes and intentions of being to travel around and compete head-to-head against other schools from around the state, as they do in Nebraska.
“It would make it kind of fun,” Mary Howe said. “If you are always shooting your own home field, you always have a home-field advantage.”
However, due to COVID, that is not feasible this fall.
After Nov. 24, the season will resume in the spring with an open registration period, allowing more students to join.
“They can absolutely contact myself or my wife,” Shawn said. “This is for anyone from sixth to 12th grade.”
The spring season will be capped off with a state tournament just like any other sport.
Torrington was scheduled to host last year but COVID got in the way of those plans. Mary hopes Torrington and the Goshen County Sportsmen Club will have an opportunity to host in the spring of 2021.
When the Wyoming High School Clay Target League began, there were only four teams across the state. With the addition of the Goshen County team, it shows the sport continues to grow at the middle school and high school age group. Nationally, as of the 2019 season, there were 25 states and more than 30,000 participants taking part in leagues.