A few years ago, Coach Chuck McClaugherty practically had to beg to establish the Canby High School’s first trapshooting team. School officials were concerned that the sport used guns and were worried about injuries.
But when McClaugherty showed how fast the sport is growing in high schools across the country, and shared the actual data on trapshooting injuries vs. those of more common sports, and especially contact sports like football, they relented.
Since then, the Cougar trapshooting team has been taking aim at establishing itself as one of the premier programs in the state and nation. They blasted onto the country’s biggest stage last year with several impressive performances in the USA Clay Target High School National Championships, not the least of which was the dominance of pint-sized then-junior Issabella Berge.
Berge put on a clinic, hitting a perfect 100 out of 100 targets in a row, one of only seven in the field of 1,700 seventeen hundred competitors to accomplish the rare feat — and the only girl. In so doing, she made a strong case for being the top female amateur trapshooter in the country.
The high school team has several other seasoned shooters who will also be looking to make some noise in this year’s national championships. But, they may have already found their next big thing in the form of 12-year-old sixth-grader Ayden Griesenauer.
“Aimin’ Ayden,” who’s coached by both McClaugherty and his grandfather, Wayne Griesenauer, has been shooting for just the past year, but he’s already achieved something that many shooters with years or even decades more experience have failed to accomplish: shot a perfect round, 25 for 25.
Actually, he’s done it twice. Here’s Wayne, during a recent interview after practice at the Canby Rod & Gun Club, so please forgive the background noise.
This year, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders are being allowed to compete with the high school team, something Wayne said is “pretty exciting” for the youngsters. Ayden has been practicing hard twice a week, with the goal of competing with and against shooters with several years on him in terms of age and experience.
“He’s been putting in the work,” Coach McClaugherty says. “He’s been showing up every Tuesday and Thursday. For a sixth-grader, he is shooting amazing!”
As eye-opening as his shooting as been, McClaugherty has been just as impressed by the preteen’s growth and maturity on the range.
“I have seen big changes from when Ayden started shooting,” he says. “I think trapshooting has really helped him. Ayden has a very good start on becoming one of the best. If he keeps practicing, the sky’s the limit.”
In addition to competing with the Canby Cougar Trapshooting Team this season, he’ll join Wayne at a number of competitions organized by WRITA, the Western Regional Independent Trapshooting Association, where he’ll see some of the country’s best amateur and professional shooters in action.
But, wherever he ends up going in the sport, he’s already beaten one of the best: his own coach and grandfather.
Trapshooting is one of the fastest-growing sports in the state and the nation. McClaugherty says there are now 43 Oregon high schools that have formed trapshooting teams, and he expects between 800 to 1,000 student-athletes to be competing in the state this year.
The high school team competes in a five-week long league competition against teams across the state. Teams are broken into divisions based on team size, with Canby being in the largest.
“It looks like we will have 40 to 50 students from sixth grade to 12th grade on the team this year,” Coach McClaugherty said.
Hear more from Coach McClaugherty, Issabella Berge and her dad, Tryg, on Episode 87 of the Canby Now Podcast: “It’s a Trap.”