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High school shooting sports thriving

May 26, 2012
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

When these teenage boys and girls take aim at a flying target, a compacted disc of clay painted bright orange, you can rest assured that many of those targets will turn to dust in midair. Such was the case on May 12 at the local Ikes grounds when teams met to load their 12 or 20 gauge shotguns at each designated shooting position. Coaches and family were there to do the 'cheerleading' and encourage the students to do what any sport requires; namely concentration, good form, follow through and then do it all over again. At the end of the day, scores are tallied and teams are recognized.

Iowa High Schools do have the option of partaking in the Scholastic Clay Target Program. In 2011, 1,392 shooters from 59 teams participated in this program. Collectively, these shooters shot nearly 600,000 targets in spring competition. By the time the state championship events begin, over 150 league events will have been conducted around the state. A big thank you must go out to all the sponsors for this shooting sport including Larry and Brenda Potterfield of Midway USA for establishing the Scholastic Shooting Trust and providing Iowa with significant contributions to help fund for clay bird shoots by high schoolers.

The State High School Championship Trap Shoot will be held near Cedar Falls, IA on June 2nd. Teams will shoot at 100 targets, the first 50 at the 16 yard line and the second 50 from 19 yards. If past experience is anything to go by, the winners will shoot high 90s our of a possible 100. After three rounds, ( potential perfect 300), past scores from 2011 had Skler Rath of Solon hit 294 birds! The 2011 top girl shooter was Katie Marzolf of New Hampton with 276 out of 300. Way to go kids.

Article Photos

Local high schoolers from South Hardin and Jasper County attended their local sporting clay competition held at the Marshall County Izaak Walton League grounds on May 12. While other high schoolers around the nation may be involved in track, baseball, football, soccer, basketball or tennis, the growing sport of shooting at targets in either trap or clay bird settings is just as intense and rewarding. In today’s photo, a shooter in the foreground is getting ready for the clay bird to launch into a simulated pheasant or quail. In the background, another shooting team does the same where two birds launch but criss-cross in mid air thereby setting up a quick reaction scenario for the shooter. Team competitions culminate at the state championships later this year.


Recreational shooting sports are big business ... and fun to do. No matter what a person likes to specialize with, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, pellet gun or even BB gun, shooting targets can grow on you as a very satisfying outdoor activity. Just like anything else in sports, practice and more practice are essential ingredients to become more proficient. Luckily for almost every community, one can find a shooting range or ranges to safely conduct this sport. Marshall Countians have the Izaak Walton League located 2 miles south of Iowa Avenue on Smith Avenue. Contact any Ike member if you'd like details on joining.


Straight shooting is what at least 10,455 wild turkey spring hunters did in Iowa. The turkey season just ended on May 20 this year. Tom turkey gobblers met their match at the end of shotguns, muzzle loader shotguns, or archers arrows. This scribe tried to pull it off with my archery equipment. No turkey this year. Maybe next year. Marshall County turkey hunters recorded 49 birds to the statewide total.


Pheasants have been sounding off. Their unmistakable cackle of a crowing rooster pheasant is nice to hear. They are out there and if this dry spring weather continues, it will immensely help hen pheasants sitting on nests. Cold wet weather is not what they like or need. An occasional rain shower is not the problem. Repeated heavy rains and colder air does impact the pheasant chicks. Staying dry is important to staying warm. It should be interesting to see what this fall's standard pheasant route surveys detect regarding pheasant survival and growth. Stay tuned.


Birds of another kind, specifically those that live in BRAZIL, will the focus of a very good free program coming up on May 31 at the Fisher Community Center, 7 p.m. Retired ISU professor James Pease will show his photos of recent trips to the Pantanal wetlands, northeast Brazil and the Amazon River. Brazil is the '900 pound gorilla' as Dr. Pease calls it, for the incredible ecological diversity of the region of the world. If you want to be amazed and learn more about wildlife in Brazil, this will be a must see program. Sponsor for this program is the local bird club, the Central Iowa Ornithologists. You do not have to be a member to attend. Bring a guest or two or three. It will be worth your time.

Dr. Pease spent more than three decades in the front lines of environmental education as an instructor for budding naturalists, writers and consultants on ecological issues. He has taught internationally in Costa Rica, Brazil, Panama, Russia and Taiwan. He can still be heard in Iowa Public Radio during his monthly edition on "Talk of Iowa."


This weekend is MEMORIAL DAY weekend. This scribe says a big thanks your to all past, present and future, airmen, sailors, marines and soldiers who have worked to defend the freedoms we enjoy in America. My salute goes out to all.


Staying safe this weekend while recreating is important. Ask the families of the 20 and 21 year olds in the Burlington area if safety is important. At least four funerals have or will soon be conducted for young lives snuffed out by drownings in the Mississippi River. All of these drownings were completely avoidable! But it happened anyway. My plea to everyone is this: safety is no accident. Do not become a statistic. Be a living person that cares is a much better option.


FREE FISHING next weekend, June 1, 2 and 3. This is an annual happening by the DNR to encourage outdoor participation. Bass must still be at least 15 inches long and other creel limits apply. However in regard to having a fishing license, you will not need it. June 4th you will need it.


This hypothetical story is so good I have to share it. The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the dog, then bites the governor. He starts to intervene but then reflects on the movie "Bambi" and realizes the coyote is only doing what comes naturally. The Gov. calls animal control. They capture the coyote and bill the state $200 for testing and $500 for relocating it. The Gov. calls his vet to treat his dog and to test for rabies. The vet sends a bill for $200. The Gov. gets his wounds treated at a hospital ... total bill $3,500. The hiking trail gets shut down for six months while fish and wildlife folks survey the area to free the area of dangerous coyotes. The Gov. also spends $50,000 in state funds to initiate a "coyote awareness program" for area residents.

Then the state legislature spends $2 million on a study on how to better treat rabies or eradicate the disease. In addition, the Gov.'s body guard is fired for not stopping the attack. The state then spends $150,000 on training a new agent to protect the Gov. Animal rights groups protest (their specialty) and file a $5 million lawsuit.

Meanwhile in Texas, that Gov. is out jogging on a trail with his dog. A coyote jumps out and attacks the dog. The Gov. shoots the coyote with his state issued .45 ACP pistol and keeps on jogging. The Gov. spent 50 cents on one .45 ACP hollow point cartridge. A turkey vulture eats the dead coyote.

This is why California is financially broke and Texas is not.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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