The average age of the American hunter is between 35 and 55. That number has been steadily increasing over the years, much like that of American farmer, as the urbanization of America continues. How can the sportsmen of America bring one of the great traditions of the American west back to life? How about making it a competition?
By Melissa Anderson
Over the last 10 years, a program that started in Minnesota has taken off and become a national success that includes 20 states with 804 teams composed of 26,426 participants. North Dakota recently joined the ranks of the USA High School Shooting League and now dedicated sportsmen in Langdon plan to bring the program here.
“All the coaches are certified Hunter Ed instructors. We all enjoy helping the students enjoy the shooting sport. We hope to have a good turnout,” Langdon instructor Rod Howatt said.
With just over 50 participating teams in North Dakota, this newly created league allows high school students to learn and hone their marksmanship skills in a safe and fun environment. The league will be offering trap and skeet style of shooting with the participant being able to choose one or both styles to compete in.
“The coaches want to teach the students the fun of shooting and, also, that you can enjoy shooting sports and not have to go hunting to enjoy shooting. The coaches also want to teach the safety of shooting,” Howatt shared.
There are some items that the potential shooter will need in order to compete within the league on the Langdon team. The first is that participants must have their hunter education certification. The second is that participants must be between the ages of 11 years old and a senior in high school.
“They [North Dakota State High School Clay Target League] planned for 1200 students this year,” Howatt said.
As Howatt and his fellow coaches/instructors look forward to the opening of the league and the first practice of the team, they shared a few things that the potential participants should have but don’t necessarily need to have to be a part of the team.
“We would like the students to have a shooting vest, hearing protection, and shotgun- either 12 gauge or 20 gauge. If the student does not have these then the club will have them,” Howatt said.
The Langdon league will have the kids that sign-up to participate practice for the first three weeks. Following those weeks of practice, the team will move on to league competition for the next seven weeks with all of the students participating in the state tournament that will be held in Horace in mid-June. The state tournament will last for three days with each team being assigned a day to come and shoot.
“We will start shooting April 1 if the snow melts. When shooting, you will shoot by classes: A,B,C,D. When you shoot, you will shoot against students in your class,” Howatt explained. “With 1,200 kids, the [competitions] will be fun to see and watch.”
Those interested in signing up for the league need to contact Rod Howatt with their names and email address. Howatt will collect the names for the Langdon team and provide them to the state which will then send the students an email with instructions on how to complete the sign-up. The deadline to sign-up is March 22 at 12 p.m. Rod Howatt can be reached by text or phone at 370-9988.