Schoolcraft High School clay target league begins

Front row from left to right: Addison Smith, Aiden Weiler, Grant Goelitz, Jadon Blodgett, Michael McCale, Caden Fritts, Austin Melville, and Chris Olsen. Kneeling in back: David Glerum, Gerrin Kinkela, and Hope Wright. Back row from left to right: Tristan VanCleave, Ethan DenHartigh, Eli Wedel, Thomas Rutkoksie, Mitchell Duong, and Gabe Redmond. Missing: Brady Bongard.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Coach Chuck Fritts and Schoolcraft High School’s clay target team are having a successful first season. After learning more about the league, receiving help from Schoolcraft Athletic director Jeff Clark and a unanimous school board vote, Fritts assembled the team.

Besides the support from parents and the community, Fritts said this team is possible because of “the hard work and help from coaches Neil Kreamalmeyer, Wade Rutkoskie, Max Blodgett, and Randy Bongard.” 

Seventeen students shoot on Thursday evenings at the Lakes Area Sportsmans Club in Portage. Students are required to shoot two rounds of trap for an official score, and they compete with student scores from similar size teams in the league. This year’s conference has five teams: Pittsford, Will Carleton Academy, Valley Lutheran High School and Ionia High School.

Fritts says the students are having fun, learning well, and progressing in their skills. Several team members are ranked in their divisions. Hope Wright is shooting extremely well and is currently fifth in the female division in the league, first place in the women’s division in the conference and first place on the Schoolcraft team. Caden Fritts is also shooting well. He’s ranked fourth in the conference and is currently in second place on the Schoolcraft team. He has earned the AIM All State Award in Michigan and has attended several big competitions, as well as nationals.

Fritts said the 2021 SCTP Nationals “had record breaking attendance this year. Teams from 33 states had 7,658 student athletes competing. They shot 1.4 million white flyer targets, equivalent to 10 semi loads stretching the length of a football field.”

Other team members are shooting consistently and catching on quickly.

Practice is critical to the sport. For example, Fritts’ son Caden shoots approximately 6,000 clay targets a season. He practices three to four nights a week, shooting 300 to 400 shells per week. Thomas Rutkoskie is an example of this. Rutkoskie works at improving and shoots 3 days a week. He has gone from shooting high teens to 20’s consistently and is currently ranked 3rd place on the team.

Fritts said organizing and starting the program “have been really exciting; the amount of support from other coaches, parents, and club members have truly made this possible. Teaching youth safety and proper gun handling is the league’s top priority, and safety is the number one rule for the students. When you can attend shooting events with thousands of competitors and not a single accident, it really shows that safety is our number one rule.”

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