Aberdeen Gun Club (AGC) was established in 1980 by a small group of trap shooters who wished to preserve the sport in their part of South Dakota. The result is the finest shooting grounds in the area with 13 trap houses equipped with automatic trap machines and voice-pulls, one skeet range and a five-stand sporting clays range.
Features aside, the AGC has become instrumental in preserving the future of the sport amongst South Dakotans. In addition to a healthy youth trap shooting league that boasts more than 150 participants, Aberdeen has hosted the first three South Dakota State High School Clay Target League State Tournaments and witnessed team participation grow from seven teams in 2016 to 39 this year.
AGC members have actively promoted trap shooting to high schools in the Aberdeen area, and today, four area high schools call AGC home—Aberdeen Roncalli, Aberdeen Christian, Groton, and Aberdeen Central, where the club’s range manager, Brennan Goehring, serves as head coach.
“We were somewhat concerned that the League would cut into our existing youth trap shooting program,” said Jerry Brick, president of the Aberdeen Gun Club. “What we found out was that many of the shooters that joined the high school league came from our youth league, and that made room for younger shooters to join our youth league.”
The net effect, Brick says, is that Aberdeen was able to provide a shooting experience for more young shooters than the club was ever able to accommodate before. The State Tournament will return to AGC for the fourth time in June 2019, and Brick hopes that his club will eventually be named the tournament’s permanent host.
“High school competitors and their coaches are the best people to work with during the Leagues and the State Tournament—they respect each other and cheer for each other,” Brick said. “This last year, I don’t believe we have ever had that many people on our grounds at one time. It was thrilling to see the spectator gallery five to six people deep for the entire length of our trap range.”
AGC plans to continue promoting the League throughout the winter so that more shooters—and more schools—will become involved.
“When we promoted trap shooting to some of the area high school boards, we made it known that trap shooting was a sport where no one sat on the bench and everyone participated—regardless of athletic ability, disability or gender,” Brick said. “I’ve been impressed with the number of shooters who started trap shooting with dismal scores and improved during the year to become very good trap shooters.
“My hope is that last year’s participants will encourage more high school students to join the team, compete in our Spring League, and participate in the State Tournament next summer.”
Did You Know?
Participation in the South Dakota State High School Clay Target League State Tournaments has grown from seven to 39 teams in just three years.