By Jim Ladhe – The Morning Sun
It always starts with an idea and the direction it takes from there determines its reality.
Just last fall at a ClareSchools Board of Education meeting the idea was floated to start a ‘Clay Target shooting team’ and since then this idea has taken on a life of its own via a groundswell of local support the likes very few saw coming.
As it stands clay target shooting has become one of the fastest-growing prep sports in the Midwest – particularly in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin – and nowhere is this fact better exemplified then its recent rise to fruition in Clare.
After floating the idea last fall 75 interested students showed up for the initial ‘Clare Clay Target team’ meeting in February, a number that is stunning in its breadth considering there was no precedent in place to guide the way forward. Rather, these were just people who showed up to find out more about this prospective team, ranging from sixth graders to high school seniors.
For head coach Clint Colosky, whose nickname ‘Skeet’ is only oh-so fitting, the past couple months have been nothing short of a whirlwind as he’s seen this trial-balloon idea come full circle. As it stands the Clare Clay Target team opens its first-ever competitive season this week at the Clare Rod & Gun Club.
Moreover, with 60 kids on the team, the Pioneers have one of the biggest teams in the state alongside Romeo and Vicksburg. In all there are 66 ‘Clay Target teams’ in the state of Michigan and this overall is expected to continue to grow going forward.
“When 75 kids showed up at that initial meeting I was like ‘whoa,’” said Colosky, a 2000 Clare graduate who coached baseball for 16 years. “I knew it was going to be a big deal then and it’s come together quickly with the help of the Clare Rod & Gun Club, we appreciate everything they have done of us.”
On Thursday Clare was officially slotted into a conference, called Conference 10, which is the largest conference in the state based on team size. Its conference rivals will be Romeo and Vicksburg as this trio has the largest overall roster numbers in the state.
Colosky is an avid outdoorsman who spent 15 years working at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, thus he is a perfect fit as head coach.
“It’s something I have been doing all my life. Obviously, the competitive side of me wants to make this a competitive sport for all our kids,” said Colosky. “Also, we want to give them an opportunity to do something else and this provides that.”
In terms of how this will all work, well, it’s fairly simple.
Each team member will shoot two sets of 25 clay targets (50 total) over the course of the school week (Monday through Thursday) at the Clare Rod & Gun Club with either a 12-gauge, 16-gauge or 20-gauge. The top 44 scores will then comprise an overall team score which will be measured against other teams’ totals. All participants need to have a hunter’s safety or SAFE training.
The season runs through mid-June with the state finals scheduled for June 15 in Mason.