LOCATED LESS THAN AN HOUR’S DRIVE NORTH OF DOWNTOWN DETROIT, MICHIGAN, the North Macomb Sportsmen’s Club (NMSC) offers a variety of sports shooting and archery events suitable for the whole family.
NMSC was founded in 1947, in what had to be a very rural Washington Township, Michigan, said five-time club president John Oldani, who also coaches the Romeo High School Clay Target and Trap Team. The club currently offers members access to 45 acres of sports activities, including one skeet field, three trap fields, four skeet/trap combination fields, a five-stand station, a 200-yard rifle range, and roving archery targets.
In addition to Romeo, both Eisenhower High and Utica High call NMSC home, and the potential exists to add a fourth local school to the club’s roster next season.
“Regardless of what school they attend, the students all shoot together,” Oldani said. “While students may be fierce rivals in other high school sports, these athletes cheer each other on regardless of school affiliation.”
This spring, a combined 145 student athletes registered for trap—at times running all seven trap fields simultaneously each Monday evening. To do this safely each week, the club relied on 15-20 member volunteers, who acted as instructors, safety officers, pullers, and scorers.
“Experience is not a requirement to join,” Oldani said. “Each year, we see students with a wide variation in shotgun experience, from experience in formal games and backyard hand-throwing targets to those who have never handled a firearm.
“We dedicate one field to those students who might benefit from extra instructional help. They love the extra assistance, and we tend to see most of them moving on to a regular rotation before the end of the season.”
And although the three teams’ collective histories may be short in length, their students can flat-out compete. In 2017, Romeo took home the Michigan State High School Clay Target League Conference 4 Championship in its first year of competition, while students from all three schools have been invited to compete at the National Championship.
Utica High coach Mark Kosanke created 501(c)(3) organizations to support the three NMSC-hosted teams, which allows them to apply for and receive grants and tax-deductible donations, which help pay for team T-shirts, hats, and other shooting accessories for student athletes.
“The three schools together jointly host a fundraising banquet to help offset the cost for students, purchase additional equipment, and thank the many club members who come out each week and help facilitate the events,” said Eisenhower High coach Mark Ollila. “Additionally, the Friends of the NRA has offered generous support in the form of grants for ammunition and shotguns.”
“We’re constantly being thanked for our efforts in organizing and operating the programs,” Kosanke said. “Many parents have never participated in shooting, so they’re unsure what to do, what to buy, and how it all works.
Coaches say the response from parents and community members has been overwhelming as well.
“We help to take the mystery out of the activity.”