Just how the Woodland Trap shooting team came into existence is up to some debate.
Coach Ben Musgrove expressed interest in helming such a squad to fellow Woodland parent Sam Nigro more than a year ago. Nigro mentioned something to that effect to Woodland High School athletic director Paul Huddleston.
A few Woodland students approached all three at various points in time, and it became clear to Huddleston that there was enough interest in competition shotgun shooting to create a team.
Now, six months after the team was created, Woodland Trap will send 10 shooters to the state competition June 22-24 at the Seattle Skeet and Trap Club.
"I just come here with the kids," Musgrove said. "None of this would have been possible without (Huddleston's) legwork. He got us joined up with the SCTP (Scholastic Clay Target Program), which is an organizing body and an insurance body, the whole business."
So far, the team has attracted 16 members. To join costs only $15, sent to the SCTP to put shooters on the insurance. Any member can go to state, provided he or she pays the $90 entry fee.
To cover all those expenses, Woodland Trap has raised money in a variety of ways. Musgrove said the team's received around $3,000 in private cash donations. The Rainier Rod and Gun Club, where the team practices twice a month, is youth-friendly and cut the squad a deal on the cost of shotgun shells.
"It's all about the community," Musgrove said. "We've had people give us all kinds of cash donations to get this started."
Kick-Eez, a Woodland company that manufactures recoil pads on a national level, outfitted the team's guns with new pads. Leupold, a company that manufactures binoculars and scopes, donated two scopes valued at $2,200, which will be raffled off this summer along with a pair of rifles Musgrove won at a Safari Club International banquet in Vancouver.
The NRA donated 640 boxes of shotgun shells, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded the club a $10,000 grant for their SCTP endowment fund, although the team won't be able to draw its five percent interest off that until next year.
Many Woodland Trap shooters have previous shooting experience and own their own guns, although Musgrove brings four shotguns of his own for anyone to use. The team practices twice a month, with practices mimicking state competition.
Five shooters stand side by side, separated by a few feet with their gun barrels open and ready to load, looking down towards the trap house. Once everyone is ready, the first shooter loads his gun, snaps the barrel closed and yells, "Pull!"
The trap, constantly oscillating on a 40-degree radius, flings a bright orange clay pigeon into the air.
BANG! The target shatters.
Each shooter takes five shots at each stations for a total of 25 rounds fired. Scores are totalled by targets hit.
At state, shooters will shoot 100 rounds of trap, but will also take on two other disciplines — skeet shooting and sporting clays.
In skeet shooting, two towers on either side of the range simultaneously fling targets toward the middle, and the shooter tries to hit both. For sporting clays, different stations will feature either a repeating pair — one target launched immediately after another is fired at — or a true pair, like in skeet.
Woodland Trap, as its name suggests, has done plenty of trap shooting. But Musgrove would have to truck everyone down to Hillsboro for skeet, and even farther to Salem to shoot sporting clays.
"That's the pickle we're up against," he said.
"We're just going to wing it," said team captain Seth Wingfield, a rising senior at Woodland. "(Sporting clays is) probably the most fun event there, but it's the hardest too. That will be kind of a new experience for everybody."
Five members — Wingfield, Justin Olmstead, Jordan Musgrove, Andrew Olsen and Dru Gillespi — will compete in the varsity division, while Nic Harry, Antonio San Juan, Jordan Reyes, Austin Goff and Joe McNichols will compete as JV.
From there, shooters can go to SCTP Nationals in Sparta, Ill., or the Western Conference Championships in Cody, Wyo.
A high placing isn't necessary to move on to the next level — attendance at state, along with entry fees, are the only requirement — but a good performance at state would certainly help.
"We'll do fairly well for a new team," Wingfield said. "I'm not sure when we started, but it's been a while. For as much practice as we do, the guys are doing pretty good. I wish we had a couple more practices, but I think we'll do pretty well."