Summer 2017

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40 PULLUSA MAGAZINE SUMMER 2017 Against this reality, it has been a huge breath of fresh air to see the i m m e n s e p o p u l a r i t y o f t h e U S A High School Clay Target League. Its growth has been nothing but stun- ning, and schools are embracing it as I never would have envisioned. As a dad of two high school stu- d e n t s — a b o y a n d g i r l t w o y e a r s apart—I was dismayed to find this wa s n 't av a i l a b l e i n t h e i r s c h o o l , and wasn't in the works. However, my inquiry prompted the activities director to suggest I submit a pro- posal to create a program. With the help of another dad, we wrote up a proposal, met with school staff, and a few months later launched the Mounds View High School Clay Target Club. Our Spring 2014 team THE FIELD INSIGH T FUTURE WITHIN RANGE GROWING THE SPORT OF TRAP SHOOTING HELPS FOSTER FUTURE CONSERVATIONISTS by TOM LANDWEHR, COMMISSIONER, MINNESOTA DNR for clubs to improve trap ranges, spe- cifically to accommodate the sport. So far, several hundred thousand dol- lars have been distributed—usually in $25,000 increments—to add trap houses, upgrade equipment, and increase capacity for the thousands of new youth shooters. The initiatives mentioned above found receptive champions at the Min- nesota House. There was a hunger to support this type of activity, and I sus- pect that could be found in many states. As I found when starting our own chap- ter, there are a lot of people who want this to succeed. Connecting with the right folks, including the like-minded staff and volunteers in the League, can launch and sustain a program at the school, or even at the state level. I think there is immense poten- tial nationwide. The Minnesota DNR, along with many other state-level n a t u r a l r e s o u r c e m a n a g e m e n t offices across the US, have creat- ed a Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) program to attract new hunters and anglers into the ranks. If the first step is to get stu- dents involved, then what better program for conservationists to sup- port than the USA High School Clay Target League, which has been more successful in exposing students to responsible outdoor shooting than any other program in the country? If you care about conservation, and recognize that those who teach o u r n e x t g e n e r a t i o n o f o u t d o o r enthusiasts foster conservation, here is your way to carry on the tradition. Help your local team flourish, or work with your local school to get one started. Partner those teams and youth with conservation groups dedicated to preserving our outdoor heritage. Your life, their life, and the future of conservation will all be better off as a result. ✪ had 19 members. We stumbled our way through that first season, but managed to introduce those students to a great new sport. As the Commissioner of the Minne- sota Department of Natural Resourc- es (DNR), I see tremendous value and opportunity in this program. The League teaches youth respect for firearms, safe gun handling, that growth comes with practice, and that skill doesn't require big muscles and can be found in either gender. These are lessons we want as many kids as possible in Minnesota to learn. The Minnesota Legislature has taken notice of the huge popularity of school shooting sports, and has lent support. With a special appro- priation, the DNR now offers grants M ANY OF US who venture afield have fretted for years about the declining number of youth engaged in outdoor activities. Too little spare time for kids and parents, too many other options, and limited access to opportunities are often cited as the problems that have led to fewer and fewer young people participat- ing. We've also worried that young people's exposure to firearms is limited to what they see in movies or on the nightly news, neither of which often show shooting sports or hunting in a positive light. These trends are leading to a future of less conservation and outdoor recreation. F O R I N F O R M AT I O N A B O U T H OW T O H EL P T H E L E AG U E O R S TA R T A T E A M , G O T O U S C L AY TA R G E T.C O M I F YO U R LO C A L S C H O O L N EED S A T E A M O R T H E T E A M N EED S H EL P, YO U C A N M A K E A D I F F ER EN C E BY C O N TAC T I N G A D M I N I S T R ATO R S A N D WO R K I N G W I T H OT H ER PA R EN T S , A S TO M L A N DW EH R D I D. TIPS TOM L ANDWEHR AND HIS 17 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER JOCELYN AT THE 2016 MINNESOTA GOVERNOR'S PHEASANT OPENER

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