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Something to shoot for: three Raptors shot at the first MSHSL state trap meet

East Ridge senior Maxwell Samuelson prepares to fire a round at the Minnesota State High School League clay target state tournament last Saturday at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)1 / 2
(From left): East Ridge sophomore Michael McDaniels, senior Maxwell Samuelson, sophomore Sam Schiller and coach Mike Haas pose in front of a Minnesota State High School League banner after the three Raptors shooters fired their rounds in the MSHSL clay target state tournament last Saturday at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick) 2 / 2

As East Ridge trap shooters Sam Schiller, Maxwell Samuelson and Michael McDaniels sat at Perkins on Saturday morning, they looked up to the skies and saw a hellacious rain storm on the near horizon.

Still, shortly after, all three were out in the rainy, blustery conditions firing off rounds at the first-ever Minnesota State High School League sanctioned state clay target tournament at the Minneapolis Gun Club in Prior Lake.

Because unlike many sports, with trap shooting, if no lightning is present, the show goes on through the wet weather.

To some it’s preferred.

“I think because of duck hunting and I’m so used to it raining a lot and all the wind, I love it,” Schiller said. “These are probably my favorite shooting conditions.”

The soaked Saturday marked the first state high school league-sanctioned state tournament in the country.

Previously, the state tournament for prep trap shooters took place in Alexandria. That tournament still exists and took place a week prior to the MSHSL tournament.

There are a few differences between the two tournaments. The tournament in Alexandria, now called The Championship, is open to competitors across the state and featured more than 3,900 registered shooters this year. The MSHSL state tournament was limited to qualifying teams and the top 100 shooters in the state determined by season-long averages.

“There’s a lot better shooters out here,” Woodbury junior Ben Jacobus said. “Everyone’s quite a bit better. It’s less hectic than the [Championship], because there’s so many kids on like 20 traps at Alexandria.”

And with only the top 100 individuals qualifying for the MSHSL state shoot, shooters had some added motivation to keep their scores up throughout the season.

“There was one part of the year where I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Samuelson said, “so I was going to the range three times a week and just throwing lead down the range.”

The new tournament also provided more publicity for the growing sport. Samuelson said he saw plenty of advertisements in magazines. That type of exposure can only help programs like Woodbury, which is in its third year, and East Ridge, which is in its second, grow at even faster rates.

“It’s spreading a lot of the news around that ‘hey, there’s a fun sport going on in high school’,” McDaniels said. “I think it gives kids a chance to be competitive … and it’s pretty fun.”

Jacobus finished the event tied for 20th, hitting 94 of the 100 targets he saw. McDaniels and Samuelson tied for 25th with scores of 93 and Schiller shot a score of 90 -- good for a tie for 48th.

But regardless of their placing, 30 years from now, all four will be able to say they were a part of trapshooting history.