Saturday, December 4, 2021

Don’t shoot the Easter bunny

Pop, pop, pop.

Easter produced something a little out of the ordinary for our family this year.

In between going to the various church services and the great holiday meals my mother always prepares, we took a little target practice.

No, we weren’t aiming to shoot the Easter bunny hopping around with a bunch of goodies. Instead, my 12-year-old nephew lured us out to the back 40 on my parents’ farm to show us his latest venture. He is participating in trap shooting at his school in western Wisconsin.

He is learning the proper way of handling firearms while blasting flying orange discs out of the sky. In trap shooting, a machine known as the trap launches a clay target or pigeon into the air as the shooter blasts away with a 12-gauge shotgun.

More and more schools are including competitive shooting as part of high school life. Even as mass shootings have inspired protests and walkouts in many schools, a growing number are sanctioning shooting squads as an extracurricular activity.

It’s apparently one of the fastest-growing high school sports in the U.S.

The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League championship claims to be the largest shooting sports event in the world. The stars are teenage boys and girls.

As for safety, more than 70,000 students across the U.S. have fired 42 million shots since 2008. No one has reported a single injury, according to the published reports.

Trap shooting is an individual sport, much like wrestling, that also offers the bonding and interdependence of a team. As I saw from my nephew, hand-eye coordination and focus matter more than physical conditioning.

This provides an important lesson for youth all over that safe and responsible handling of firearms and ammunition is the first priority. There’s no better way to ensure kids grow up with a safe and secure knowledge of correct firearm usage than well-organized youth shooting programs. I can see where such a program helps take the fear and mystery out of children’s natural curiosity and replace it with understand and respect.

Trap shooting also promotes fun in a chemically free environment, participation as a privilege rather than a right and adults must serve as a positive role model to students.

Through the school programs, teens also learn how to compete against others. Competition is healthy at all age levels.

And it looks like our family has a new ritual to go in hot pursuit of for Easter and perhaps other holidays. I just request that no one shoots the Easter bunny.


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