Governor visits youth trap championship in Alexandria
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton was in Alexandria this morning where he took part in the opening ceremonies of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League’s (MSHSCTL) 2014 championship.
The championship is the largest youth shooting tournament in the world with a total of 3,948 high school athletes registered to shoot over the course of five days. Upwards of 15,000 people are expected at the local park during that time, and it got started with the governor addressing the Class A competitors and spectators on a perfect morning weather-wise for shooting.
“I was invited and then it’s the fastest growing high school sport in Minnesota -- over 6,100 participants,” Dayton said when asked about being there for the start of the event. “It’s just grown exponentially from when it started. Look at it here, 8 in the morning, and this place is just filled with parents and coaches and kids who are learning something they can do for the rest of their life and do responsibly.”
Governor Dayton and the Legislature recently approved more than $2 million in trap shooting sports facility cost-share grants. That will go toward developing or rehabilitating public facilities projects that will provide opportunities for trap shooting across the state.
“To have this kind of space available for kids and adults is really extraordinary,” Dayton said of the Alexandria Shooting Park. “There are parks in other parts of the state where this is not presently available. Having the space is one of the critical features to safe shooting experiences, and this money will help keep people safe.”
The 2014 championship in Alexandria will feature Class A teams from around the state today and follow with 2A teams on Saturday. The 3A teams will shoot Sunday, 4A teams on Monday and 5A teams, including Alexandria, will wrap up the tournament on Tuesday. All the teams are competing for a spot at the state tournament at the Minneapolis Gun Club on June 14.
The MSHSCTL is a program that featured just three teams and 30 participants from 2001 through 2008. Since then, it has grown to 185 teams from 275 schools and around 6,100 competitors for the 2014 season. Numbers are expected to grow even more next season as the program shows the importance of the outdoors and the future of shooting sports to many people across the state.
“Hunting is a great Minnesota tradition,” Dayton said. “I used to go pheasant and duck hunting in southwestern Minnesota with my father and my brother, and I still have some of my best memories growing up with that experience. The fact this will encourage the next generations to follow in their father’s and mother’s and grandparent’s footsteps is just terrific. It gets them off to a good start and teaches them how to handle a weapon responsibly. It’s just all good.”