MUSCATINE, Iowa — For parents, there's more than one way to teach their children about gun safety. Some prefer to keep kids away from guns. Others say a hands-on approach is a good way to learn about gun safety.
Sarah Coomer prefers the hands-on approach. The DeWitt mom said she thinks it was a great decision for her son, Kyle, to join the North Scott trapshooting team last year.
“It’s something he enjoys and honestly, with shooting trap, they’re very rigorous in their safety. They have to go through certain safety trainings before they can even shoot,” said Coomer as she attended a meet between North Scott and Davenport on Wednesday afternoon. The meet was held at the Izaak Walton League trapshooting range, 2400 170th St. Both junior high and high school-aged youth competed.
Trapshooting is a sport where the teens shoot at clay "birds" — in actuality, orange discs — with a shotgun on an outdoor range. The trapshooting teams are co-ed and sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources. Although the Muscatine area does not currently have a youth trapshooting team, Izaak Walton League committee members hope someone will pick up an interest and start one.
But so far, it doesn't sound like area schools are ready — or willing — to have a team.
“We’re getting a lot of resistance there and we don’t really have any idea why. So far we’ve assumed it’s the anti-gun movement,” said Ed Schultz, trap league committee member. “This is one of the few trapshooting ranges in this area. Most of these people are traveling an hour or more to get here. We are the home range for Solon, which is about an hour and a half away. That’s quite a ways to travel, but they don’t hesitate.”
Schultz said that last year about 8,000 birds were thrown for youth trapshooting events, including practices and meets. “They’re better behaved and better organized than some of our old-timers. It’s been a real joy to work with them and see how it goes.”
Bill Krider, another trap league committee member, said he thinks an area youth league would do a lot of good for the community. Although the schools aren't interested in a shooting team, Krider hopes a youth community team is in the near future.
“They have a dress code, a scholastic code and are very, very safety conscience. New teams are starting all the time. Hopefully we can get somebody involved to get their coaching certificate. Each team needs to designate a home range, and that allows them to invite other teams and set up matches,” said Krider, who added that it’s not unusual to have a few girls on the teams.
“Last year, from Solon, there were three young ladies who came in and asked for ice bags. They said their shoulders were so sore and one had blood on her chin from a bad recoil. I made them ice packs and they were just right back out there shooting.”
North Scott team member, Rob Reyes, 15, only began shooting guns a few years ago after he was introduced to the sport. In his first year he won a silver medal during the state competition.
“My uncle showed me trapshooting and I thought it was pretty cool. My favorite part is seeing the clays break. When you can really smoke those clays, it’s just beautiful,” said Reyes. His advice to anyone looking to begin shooting is to take advice from experienced shooters, but in the end choose the gun that feels comfortable to you.
Coomer said the first gun they she and her husband bought for their son cost about $600. The gun he uses now cost nearly $1,100.
“It can be expensive,” said Coomer. “As it is with any parent with a kid in any sport, you just want your kid to have fun and enjoy it.”