FIRST-TIME visitors to West End Fishing and Hunting Club might question their directions while winding through a sprawling residential development in Eagan, Minnesota, en route to the range.
But sitting at the edge of suburbia on an expansive stretch of wetland is an incredibly popular and recently improved shooting site that is home to a vibrant and active facility that hosts as many as 300 student athletes from local high schools participating in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League.
“It’s a great facility and they’ve really been supportive of the kids, working with us on the team,” said Doug Scurr, a West End board member and head coach of the Rosemount High School Trap Team, as cracks from his students’ shotguns echoed on the range during a practice in May.
Rosemount shares the range with high school teams from Eagan, Eastview and the combined Richfield High School & Academy of Holy Angels team. Started in St. Paul around 1940, West End moved to Eagan in the 1960s and has grown substantially since, now consisting of four trap fields, a five-stand field added a couple years ago, a recently expanded clubhouse with great hall, and a parking lot that, on league days, is nearly full to capacity.
Originally set up on 20 acres of land purchased from a farmer, the range has gradually become encircled by residential property, but has found ways to thrive in its space, largely through outstanding community relations efforts. Many nearby residents shoot at the club, which boasts 60 adult teams, and the range’s beautiful new clubhouse has been used to host gatherings for neighbors.
“We’ve done pretty well with the limited space we had,” said club president Scott LeClair.
LeClair, who helps coach the Richfield and Eastview teams and has a son who shoots for Eastview, said activity really picked up when the range opened its doors to high school teams in 2013.
He said watching students grow and improve is the best part of his involvement.
“The joy in their face. Just looking at the kids and watching that, it’s enormous,” he said. “It’s really rewarding, so, that’s the fun part.”
Rosemount Trap Team member McKayla Heilman, 17, said the coaches, club members and diversity of middle school and high school students have all contributed to her improvement and enjoyment of the sport.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of friends because each week we shoot with different people so you get to know a lot of people,” she said.
Visit westendtrapclub.com for more information.