It’s a surging sport across Iowa schools.
“Over the last, I think you could go as far as 8, maybe 10 years, it’s been the fastest growing sport in the state of Iowa,” says Don Schwenker, Maquoketa Trap Team head coach.
Trapshooting has exploded from about 400 athletes in 2007 to nearly 4,000 today, according to Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources.
“Iowa hunts, we fish; It kind of mirrors what the kids like to do,” Schwenker says.
The Maquoketa youth trap team is at the center of the state’s growing field.
There are 29 shooters ranging from fifth grade to high school seniors and no one sits out.
“You stand on the line as a squad of five. You represent the team of 29, but technically you are an individual shooting for a personal best,” says Schwenker.
Since starting up in 2006, the team has already become three-time state champions and national champions in several categories.
“I got my first 25 straight this year for singles and I got second in handicap for the state,” says 8th grader Emma Chapin.
Chapin started shooting for the same reason as a lot of other kids– to beat her older brother.
“I got 94 out of 100 and that’s what my brother got and he’s going to be a junior,” says Chapin.
But for her, the competition has taken on a little more edge.
“There’s not a lot of girls going out for trap, so I thought that I would try it.”
Although there are still only a fraction of female shooters to their male counterparts, those numbers are growing, too.
“It’s fun to show the boys up,” she says.
The sport has also become a pipeline for students.
“They can achieve that goal of maybe going to college and getting that scholarship, making it easier so it betters their future,” says Schwenker.
Schwenker’s son was the first of many Maquoketa students to accept a trapshooting scholarship– A target that most of these kids also hope to hit.
“I hope I get a scholarship to go to a college and get a degree there and life would be a lot easier,” says Trevor Dull, a high schooler.
Despite the competition, the camaraderie is what these athletes say sticks with them the most.
“You can get to know other kids through different schools and you’re not trying to beat them up on the football field, it’s just hang back, relax, play cards, talk,” Dull says.