Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC), in Fennimore, Wis., is located 35 miles straight east of Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi River, and 70 miles straight west of Madison. This year marks the inaugural season for the school’s new target shooting team. So far it’s the second official athletic activity to be founded at SWTC, after the campus golf team.
It all began with conversations between Matt Schneider, a campus advisor, and the school’s president, Dr. Jason Wood, about ways to attract more of the district’s rural high school graduates to enroll at the college. Local high schools have seen increasing participation in their own trapshooting teams in the last few years, as part of the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League, with further growth expected next spring.
Fortunately, Schneider’s and Wood’s instincts were right. The announcement of their new college trap program attracted significant attention before classes even began, and at least 24 students expressed an interest in participating. “Interest has been growing tremendously by word of mouth,” said Dan Imhoff, director of facilities and range safety officer. “Friends are telling other friends, and they’re coming to us asking about being on the team.
“Some of our students want to join because their own schools didn’t have teams yet, so they feel like they’re getting a chance to do something they missed.”
Currently the team has an active roster of 10 students. After an initial meeting, the first official shooting practice took place on September 7. The team holds practices at the Muscoda Gun Club, a 30-minute drive north of Southwest Tech. However, if there continues to be strong student interest and participation, Imhoff believes the college might consider building a dedicated trap facility on campus. “We already have a pistol range for our criminal justice program,” Imhoff said. “We would definitely evaluate our options.”
In addition to their primary campus positions, Schneider and Imhoff serve as coaches for the team. Both are highly experienced in firearms safety, and they value that education. “We see it as an opportunity to teach young adults the proper way to manage and handle firearms,” Imhoff said. “Part of my roles is the safety and security of the college.”
President Wood, an avid outdoorsman, agrees. “I think this is an opportunity to show how firearms can be used appropriately in society. We want to be part of this conversation.”
Commonsense campus safety protocols are strictly enforced to ensure that shotguns are always locked away and accounted for when not in use for team activities. “Students aren’t allowed to have guns in the dorms, so students will check their firearms in and out of the campus armory through Dan,” explained Stephanie Brown, resident life and student resources coordinator and athletic director. She’s excited about the potential growth of the sport and predicts college trapshooting will grow by leaps and bounds, just as the USA High School Clay Target League has in recent years.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop more regional shoots and offer scholarships, and perhaps even an on-campus facility,” said Schneider. ✪