Young guns: Youth shooting clubs on the rise

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By Matt Markey and Jeff Basting

The Toledo Trap & Skeet Swamp Rats have been around for slightly more than a year, taking their shot at joining the rapidly expanding ranks of youth shooting teams. They are also providing a solid foundation for the next generation of participants in the shooting sports.

Joe Krispin helped organize the team and serves as its coach. “I’ve shot all of my life and when I took my boys out a couple of years ago, they just loved it,” Mr. Krispin said. “When I saw that the sport was really starting to pick up some interest in the younger ranks, we decided to research it a bit and see what we could do, and before you know it, we had 29 kids signed up for the team.”

In the shooting sports, size, strength and physical prowess have little bearing on success, and that puts the competition on the ultimate level playing field.

“Some of these kids might not fit in as well in the regular team sports, but the shooting sports seem to be ideal for them,” Mr. Krispin said. “This is something they can attach themselves to and build their confidence. A lot of it comes down to the mental aspect, that’s what we’re trying to build.”

Jeff Herr’s 13-year-old daughter, Lilly, is a seventh-grader at Evergreen Middle School and one of the best in the state in the shooting sports. She was one target away from winning the state championship last year, and went on to place fourth nationally in sporting clays.

“She’s not afraid to take advice, and that’s the thing with a lot of these kids on the team — they are very coachable and they haven’t developed a lot of bad habits,” Mr. Herr said. “And out on the shooting range, there are all kinds of life lessons to be learned. They start with safety, and build from there.”

Mr. Krispin lauded the support the young team has received from the Toledo Trap and Skeet club and its members.

“The shooting sports are still strong, but the numbers have been dropping, so it’s nice to see the club being so welcoming,” he said. “These clubs usually have a lot of older gentlemen in their membership, but these young kids are coming out and finding that they love the sport.”

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.