Canby trap shooting team sends five to nationals
Canby—In just its second year in existence, the Canby High School trap shooting team is already making waves. The team took third place in its conference, and will be sending shooters to both the state competition in Hillsboro, as well as the national competition held in Mason, Michigan during the second week of July.
Part of the reason for the team's success has been rapid improvement in just a short time. The previous year ended with only a pair of athletes shooting perfect 25's from the line-up. As this season drew to a close, the team had 15 athletes who had shot 25's. In one competition, sophomore Matt Eubanks shot all 50 targets in competition, quite the feat. Eubanks says he owes it to the dedication of the team.
"It's been pretty great," Eubanks said. "Just shooting as hard as I can every week, showing up to practice early before the competition weeks. It's been probably the greatest preparation that I could have before nationals."
The national competition takes place from July 12 through 15, and five of Canby's athletes will be making the trip. They include the aforementioned Eubanks, sophomore Danner Sullivan, sophomore Benjamin Wing, senior Jake Johnston, and sophomore Issabella Berge. Berge was the top female shooter in the league this past season, averaging a 22.2 average per round.
The team itself finished third in the conference, and had a grand total of 4,518 points when it was all said and done. Canby was far and away ahead of fellow league competitors Wilsonville, Newberg, and Union High School. While there was still a sizeable gap between the Cougars and league champ Hermiston and runner up Molalla, coach Chuck McClaugherty was simply happy with the progress his young team had made in so short a span of time. This also extends to his participants who will head off to Michigan for the biggest competition of them all.
"I think they'll do really well," McClaugherty said. "I would imagine that, compared to other states, it seems like Oregon has really competitive trap shooters. My guess is that we'll place fairly well in nationals. Especially being a new team and a growing team that's getting better."
While McClaugherty is excited about his team's prospects and expects good things, Matt Eubanks did not want to jinx himself with a prediction. The rest of the team had a range of expectations.
"It all depends on how everyone else shoots," Wing said. "If we feel the pressure of competing against teams from all around the country, it'll be tough. It's going to be a fun experience to shoot with teams that are down the lines from us, and not all the way across the country or off in a completely different city. It's just going to depend on how we handle the pressure."
"I think we'll do pretty well," Sullivan said. "I think we're a little bit nervous for it, and the further we go into the weeks of shooting between conference and nationals, we get a little bit worse. So I think we're going to finally get it through our heads, realize what we're doing, and get it back together and do better."
"I think we'll dominate at nationals," Berge said.
The five shooters returned to the team after a successful maiden voyage into competitive trap shooting last year. For senior Jake Johnston, part of the allure was the laid back nature of the competition.
"I'd say it's a lot more relaxed," Johnston said. "I'd say for baseball, there was a lot more practice on me, and this I see more as a hobby, like snowboarding. I just go up there and try to have fun. This year I'd say I'm a lot more relaxed. I'm not really worried about the score. I know I'm not going to do well if I'm not calm, so I just make sure I go up there with a good mentality and make sure that I'm calm."
The relaxed style of competition brought Johnston back, but that wasn't the only thing that people found intriguing. Part of it was the psychological aspect, according to Wing.
"I was more focused on how I could improve to help the team get better," Wing said. "I was not focused on how we were doing against other teams. That's the fun thing about trap, you don't really need to be focused on well everyone else is doing. It's more of a mental game you play with yourself."
Apart from the national's tournament, Canby will also send several representatives to the state tournament in Hillsboro on Saturday, June 23. McClaugherty believes that part of the success of his team during the regular season and their opportunity for titles in the post season is due to the support he has received from the community. Part of that support came after McClaugherty showed how safe the sport is.
"The USA Clay Target League has been going for I think 14 years now," McClaugherty said. "It's in around 30 states. There's been zero accidents in 14 years. There's not another sport out there—you can't say football, baseball, or wrestling or anything has any sort of safety record like that."
The state tournament will be held at the Hillsboro Trap and Skeet Club this Saturday.