MDC supports youth trapshooting program based at Adrian

Competition tests shotgun skills for FFA, 4-H, and homeschool students

Adrian, Mo. – Friendly competition and fun with shotgun skills brought more than 80 high school students to league trapshooting this fall at the Settle’s Ford Trap and Skeet Range near Adrian. This FFA league has utilized a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the private gun club and the city of Adrian for 15 years.

Conservation Agent Donald Tiller helped start the program at the range 15 years ago and remains a key coordinator. Some competitors have shotgun experience from hunting, but for others it is their first experience handling firearms. Tiller has taught many students the basics of handling firearms and trapshooting techniques. Then Tiller watched them improve or even excel at breaking clay pigeons on the range. Tiller especially remembers newcomers who embrace the sport.

“This provides an opportunity for kids to learn a lifetime sport and learn gun safety,” Tiller said. “It’s a great way for them to connect with the outdoors.”

This fall’s league competition drew 12 FFA trapshooting teams from schools in Bates, St. Clair, and Cass counties. Those teams will compete in district and state FFA trapshooting tournaments next spring. The fall league rounds also included a homeschool team from the area. Besides the fall FFA league, the gun club hosts team practices, plus youths who shoot trap in the Missouri 4-H competitions. Trapshooting teams include both young women and men. The sport can accommodate competitors with mobility challenges.

Trapshooting’s outdoor setting with space between shooting positions enabled league matches to continue this fall with COVID-19 precautions in place.

Each participant shoots a round of 25 targets with rotation between the five shooting positions on the 16-yard line behind the trap house. Clay pigeons fly from the trap house at various angles to challenge the shooter’s skills. Then competitors move to the club’s second range and shoot another round of 25 targets. The coaches take firearm and trapshooting training, too.

Harrisonville High School’s FFA team had 30 participants at practices this fall and the top five made the varsity team for league competition. Other schools have similar programs. Some FFA chapters sponsor two teams in the matches.

Matches draw spectators, too.

The Adrian A-squad was the top team in this fall’s FFA league competition, followed by Rich Hill and Cass Midway. The Settle’s Ford homeschool team also participated in the league. Senior Hunter Nissen from that team had the high individual score among all competitors, hitting 242 targets out of 250 thrown. The top three FFA trap shooters and their scores were Clifton Bridgewater, Rich Hill, 223; Rains Craft, Butler, 218, and Tyler Giddings, Sherwood, 207.

Photos:  the Settle’s Ford homeschool team (bottom photo) were among the competitors this fall in league matches held at the Settle’s Ford Trap and Skeet Range. MDC supports the league and other youth trapshooting events at the range.