Bourjaily: Kids with Guns

Last post, I mentioned the trapshooting club at my son's school, Iowa City West High. Here are the West shooters at their first competition about a month ago. That's my son John, second from the right, holding the Browning Cynergy formerly known as "my Browning Cynergy." Come to think of it, the glasses, cap, pouch, gloves and shirt he's wearing all used to be mine, too.

It's been lots of fun working with the kids. Some of what I have learned so far is:

The great thing about teaching kids to shoot is that they take it seriously and are safety conscious, because they realize that if they get out of line, we adults will take away their bullets and make them stop shooting. It makes for a well-behaved and attentive group.

Trap is by far the best of the shotgun sports for youth teams. It doesn't take long to shoot a round of trap, nor does it take many practice sessions before some kids post decent scores. One of our kids shot a 3x25 when he first started with us back in late March. We told him to start shooting with both eyes open, and a few weeks ago at practice he was the first on the team to run 25 straight. Since then, we've had two other kids shoot straights in competition. There is no coaching genius at work here; we just let them shoot a lot.

This spring, I have watched kids shoot about 5000 targets. Despite what people say about steeply rising trap targets and the need for a high-shooting gun, by far the most common miss with beginners at trap is high. They miss over the top because they aren't looking at the target hard enough. I tell them to focus on the ring around the bottom of the bird they start crushing them.

The Iowa High School State Shoot takes place June, 13. I'll let you know how we do.