By JIM SMITH
GRAYLING – Earlier this spring 12 high school students from Roscommon started competing in the first “Michigan State High School Clay Target League” in the northern part of our state. The league was formed as part of the USA High School Clay Target League.
The USA League was formed in 2001 to provide a new opportunity for high school students to compete for letters on a Varsity level. The league is open to students in grades 6-12. Young men and women, as well as individuals with physical disabilities compete together on an equal basis, with the only pre-requisite being a fire-arm safety training card.
After five weeks of Monday after-school shooting, the students completed the required 250 targets and gathered at the Grayling Sportsman’s Club for their Banquet and Awards Ceremony. The celebration started with open shooting including Coach Joe Meadows, Assistant Principal and Coach Mitch Koehn, Ben Lowes and Cathy Meadows along with the rest of the team. By the time several rounds were shot the charcoal grills were pronounced hot and ready and the ‘burgers were started.
Shooting Coach Joe Meadows presents awards to Cameron Leach.
While the food was cooking Mitch Koehn graciously answered several questions put to him about how the school agreed to the “Clays” program. He indicated that rather than a “zero tolerance” policy, the administration prefers to use a “common sense” approach to handle individual situations.
“We must recognize that we live in a hunting, fishing, outdoor culture. To teach the handling of firearms with the emphasis on safety is better than not teaching them at all.” Mitch indicated that the entire school board, after a lot of questions answered by Coach Meadows, bought into the program and officially made it a lettered sport.
Jennie Schultz, mother of Evan Schultz said that while her son was eager to participate, safety was her biggest concern. After listening to the presentations to the Board she agreed that “If the school OK’s it, it’s OK with me.
After a dinner of “burgers and dogs,” lots of chips and soft drinks the awards were presented by Coach Meadows and Assistant Coach Mitch Koehn. All the participants received their “Letters” and a patch for their shooting vests.
Mitch Koehn assigns starting positions to the next flight of shooters.
Lili Meadows, Cameron Leach, Evan Schultz and Alex Goodall received top honors and qualified to move on to the National Competition to be held later in the summer.
After dinner and the awards presentation, the team went back to the range to shoot some more rounds and try some different shooting competitions like “Wobble Trap” and an “Annie Oakley” shoot.
Ben Lowe, Roscommon County undersheriff, a supporter of the Clays” program, said this type of program makes a lot of sense.
“Guns aren’t bad”. They are used for lots of good things. School safety and the Second Amendment are both important and it’s not a bad thing to have guns. Most important, “we must remember that not everybody is a football player or a basketball player”.
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