Tusky Valley’s Trojan Crush competes no matter what

Tusky Valley’s Trojan Crush competes no matter what

Image Credit: Lori Feeney

The National Weather Service said 24 F temperatures felt like 6 F, but those temperatures and limited visibility didn’t stop the Tusky Valley Trojan Crush from competing in a trap shooting tournament on Sunday, March 13 at Mapleton Gun Club in Waynesburg.

The Crush is one of 26 teams in the Tri-County Trap League. The league’s teams compete not only against each other, but also against adults. The Bolivar Sportsman’s Club is a sponsor for the team, helping with funding, ammo and even coaching, but they still compete against one another.

“It was a difficult day, and they usually beat us handily,” coach Paul Dunlap said about the BSC. “But we beat them that day.”

Students competing that day were Jacob Harps, Jakob Marzilli, Hunter Kirtley, Brayden Beatty, Aidan McClain, Hunter Ruger, Joel Kandle and Jack Reynolds.

Dunlap explained how a competition works. “In competition there are five stations for each round of competition. Each shooter shoots five shots at each station for a round total of 25 individually, 225 for the squad. Then their scores are averaged and they shoot a handicap from a different yardage.”

Last year Kandle shot a perfect 25, and this year Kirtley already has one perfect round of 25 under his belt.

The Crush currently has 15 members including both boys and girls. However, not all members want to compete, and Dunlap said that’s fine. Those who do want to compete must qualify at practice at the BSC the Thursday before each tournament.

“Not everyone can compete the whole season because I have baseball players, football players, a wrestler and kids in other activities,” Dunlap said.

The team practices every Thursday night from September through July when the season ends, with a two-week break over the Christmas holiday.

How it all began

Dunlap said he was approached three years ago by Tusky Valley superintendent Mark Murphy about starting a trap team. Dunlap took the bull by the horns and started recruiting.

“We looked at joining the Ohio Youth Trapshooting Association and the Scholastic Clay Target Program,” Dunlap said. “We ended up going with the SCTP because they offered more opportunities. They allow the kids to shoot at the national level and compete against college athletes, and we can include middle school students on the team.”

The Crush does have one member from Tusky Valley Middle School: Reynolds, a fifth-grader, who was the team’s best shooter for February.

Even hampered by COVID-19 and an ammo shortage that kept the team from competing in some of the larger shoots, the Crush still placed third in the league its first year and fourth last year.

“Each shoot the kids seem to be getting better,” Dunlap said. “It’s great to see these young men and women grow in a sport that demands respect and safety, and these kids are top notch in that area.”

Speaking of safety

Dunlap said shooting sports are among the safest activities young people can participate in. “There are fewer injuries in shooting than in almost any other sport in the nation,” he said. “Safety is very important, and it’s not just the adults who are responsible for safety; it’s the kids too.”

Statistics quoted by the SCTP back up his claim, with injuries in basketball, football, soccer and even golf racking up more injuries and canoeing and archery the only sports where fewer injuries occur.

Dunlap also said shooting is one of few sports a person can participate in for a lifetime. “With other sports most kids are done after high school. But in trapshooting the competition aspect can take you well into your 80s.”

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