By Rich Place
More than two dozen students from Springville Griffith-Institute are taking advantage of the district’s new trap club, learning the basics of gun handling, shooting and safety while also getting off to a good start competitively.
The club, a joint effort between the school district and Springville Field & Stream, started its inaugural season Feb. 27 with a 159-153 win against Catt-LV before scoring 165 — which was second of three teams — out of the possible 200 points at Randolph on Tuesday. They will host their first home match March 13 against Ellicottville.
“This is really a step in the right direction,” said Gary Klahn, who has been trap director at Springville Field & Stream for 30 years. “The kids are really excited about it and they really enjoy the shooting.”
The Springville Trap Club is comprised of 26 students, including two females. They meet for practice once a week at Springville Field & Stream, located on Chaise Road off Cattaraugus Street.
“It’s a huge combination of community and school,” said Mike Stefan, one of the club’s advisors. “Basically we are taking care of the educational aspect of it and (Springville Field & Stream) takes care of the shooting aspect. We let everyone be a professional in their area.”
The club is designed to teach students about gun safety while also honing their shooting skills. Its flexible schedule gives students the opportunity to attend a weekly practice and the club’s six meets throughout its late winter and early spring season.
Perhaps most notably — and more so now following recent school shootings that dominate local headlines — Tim Baumgartner, another one of the club’s advisors, stressed the importance of gun safety and following specific procedures throughout the practices and matches.
As he stood outside and watched students shooting at targets during practice on Monday, he talked about how impressed he has been with how students follow directions, how responsible they have been and how they know the privilege of having such a club at their school district.
Guns are absolutely not permitted on school property, Baumgartner stressed, and it’s a rule that every student has followed without question.
“The guns either stay here (at Springville Field & Stream) and they lock them up or their parents meet them out here with their guns or they go home and get them,” said Baumgartner. “They’ve been warned 20 times it’s a federal law — not even in the trunk. And I think they all understand that.
“One mistake is going to ruin it for everyone. They know that. So far they have been really good about that.”
To participate in the club, students must participate in a hunter safety course on their own and and come to Springville Field & Stream and pass a range safety course as well.
“I think it’s important they learn the safety aspect first,” said Klahn. “They had to do that first. This just teaches them things just like any other sport.”
With the way match scoring is set up, it’s not critical students attend every practice and every meet. All students get to shoot at a meet, but only the top eight scores count toward the final tally.
“If the kids miss a practice, it’s for them,” explained Baumgartner. “It’s a gift to them. If they miss a practice, they can still come (to the match) and shoot but it would behoove them to show up to practice just to get more practice time in.”
Baumgartner said the kids will also get together themselves and practice — a group went out last Friday following the snowstorm to hone their skills at a local club, he said.
The students are required to pay a $20 fee, which enables them to shoot for the entire season, but the club is funded mostly through two grants that were obtained by the school and Springville Field & Stream. The grants paid for the ammunition and five guns; the guns are available for students who don’t already own one.
“That was a big help because without them we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it,” Klahn said.
Klahn said an advantage trap shooting has over most team sports is that everyone participates at every meet. In a team sport, often students practice but sit on the bench during matches. In trap clubs, everyone shoots while the top eight scores are counted.
“In this sport, you come down here and you’ll shoot 25 times,” he said. “Everybody really enjoys it.”
During practice on Monday, the students signed up for times to shoot before gathering for a brief meeting. A representative from the club congratulated them on their first win but quickly offered constructive criticism on things they can improve on.
Then the students headed out to the range and took turns shooting, getting tips from both school advisors and club officials between each shot. Klahn said Springville Field & Stream has eight individuals who are certified range safety officers to help students and, most importantly, watch for safety. Afterward, Klahn was available to show students how to property clean their guns.
The Springville Trap Club’s matches are open to the public and home meets are held at the Springville Field & Stream. Remaining matches are all at home against Ellicottville on March 13, Salamanca on April 10, Franklinville on April 17 and Catt-LV on April 24.
Springville 159, Cattaraugus-Little Valley 153
1. Nick Emmick-22
2. Jarrett Wolf-21
3. Travis Mansfield-20
4. Matt Evans-20
5. Tyler Czerniak-20
6. Bryson Black-19
7. Robert Offhaus-19
8. Liam Raiber-18
Randolph 175, Springville 165, Pine Valley 145
1. Bryson Black-24
2. Travis Mansfied-22
3. Jarrett Wolf-21
4. Damien Occhino-21
5. Nicholas Emmick-20
6. Matt Evans-19
7. Ty Sibiga-19
8. Kyle Albrecht-19