By Nick Simonson
The North Dakota State High School Clay Target League (ND CTL) will be holding its annual state tournament at the Shooting Park in Horace, N.D., June 18-20, playing host to approximately 1,000 shooters from 60 high schools and showcasing some of the best shotgunning talent in the state over those three days in both trap and skeet competitions. Coming off the pandemic which cancelled the event in 2020, ND CTL Director Joe Courneya is excited to see how this spring’s expansion in the number of teams has impacted the year-end competition after a season off.
“We have added a day…our athletes are broken up based on team size by conferences, and so we’ll start on Friday with conference 1A, and they’ll shoot their tournament and receive their awards, and then we’ll tear down and set up for Conference 2A on Saturday, and do the same thing over again for 3A on Sunday,” Courneya relates of the three-day event which is expanded from 2019’s two-day trap shooting tournament.
This year, the ND CTL Spring League was adjusted to help schools comply with CDC requirements at the tail end of the pandemic and social distancing protocols which remained in place until the end of spring. As a result, the five-week spring league had no required practice or reserve weeks as in seasons past, and averages for participants were based on those five competition weeks. From those scores, the league determined participants’ averages and their placement in one of three divisions at the state tournament: Varsity for those shooting averages of 19 and above during the spring; Junior Varsity for those between 15 and 18.9; and Novice for any participant shooting 14.9 or less on the season. At the tournament, student-athletes of all skill levels compete against one another across those three divisions, giving everyone a chance to be recognized regardless of where they are in their shooting sports experience.
At the event, trap and skeet shooters will log four rounds of 25 targets each for a daily total out of 100, with ties broken by reverse run, or most consecutive hits counting backwards from the final target. It is not uncommon to see scores of 100 and 99 atop the leaderboard, according to Courneya, and with the experience in the ranks, and a lot of great new shooters on board with their schools joining ND CTL, those high totals are expected. This spring participation numbers were slightly down from 2019 in the ND CTL, but the number of participating schools in the state expanded, continuing the latter trend since the state’s league began six years ago. Additionally, 45 skeet shooters will participate in that event at the Shooting Park, making the total number of targets exceed the 100,000 mark for the tournament. Skeet shooters will log their rounds on days opposite of their teams’ designated trap days in this year’s tournament.
“We have an increase in the number of skeet shooters and we have 10 skeet teams coming,” Courneya relates, adding that he expects good shooting across the board in from participants ready in both disciplines, “one of the things we’re blessed with is great volunteer coaches and I think our coaches do a great job of getting our athletes ready to compete at the state level and represent their school,” he concludes.
More information on the ND CTL State Tournament can be found at ndclaytarget.com. On that site spectators can also find live updates for the shooters and teams they are following in relation to scores on both the individual and squad levels which are logged throughout the days of the events.
Featured Photo: More than 1,000 high school target shooters will be at this year’s North Dakota State High School Clay Target League state tournament in Horace, N.D. competing on team and individual levels in both trap and skeet. Simonson Photo.