By Ted Pennekamp
Come April, the Prairie du Chien School District will join the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League. Bluff View science teacher Kirby Kohler said that the new Prairie du Chien Clay Target Team is expected to have about 25-30 members from sixth through 12th grade. Most team members will be high school students, said Kohler, who will be the coach.
Kohler noted that Prairie du Chien will be placed in a conference based upon the size of the team. There were six teams in the Wisconsin State High School Clay Target League in 2013, its inaugural year. More teams are expected for the upcoming season.
“It’s exciting, we already have 26 kids signed up,” said Kohler, who noted that Prairie du Chien team members will be conducting fundraisers to help alleviate costs. Kohler said that team members are in the process of making four or five turkey decoys which will be sold for about $120 apiece in January or February. “We have about $30 worth of materials in each decoy,” Kohler said. Another fundraiser will be the Archery Shoot-a-Thon on Dec. 29. Students have been going out and getting flat pledges or pledges per arrow from local businesses. Kohler said that some students might shoot 500-600 arrows during the five-hour Shoot-a-Thon. A Bowl-a-Thon is also in the works for late winter.
The main expense for the team will be shot gun shells, which cost about $240 for four cases. Kohler has applied for a National Rifle Association grant. He also said that Nelson Hardwoods of Prairie du Chien has given a generous donation for which the team is grateful.
Kohler said that the team will shoot at the Prairie Rod and Gun Club range. There will be five competition weeks. Each team member will shoot 50 rounds at each weekly competition.
There will be no traveling for team members, except to and from the shooting range. Scores will be entered into a computer and compared to the scores of another team from a different part of the state.
There will be a State Tournament in Rome, Wis. Each team and each individual can qualify for the State Tournament, which is the only time teams will travel to a meet.
Students 12 and older with a hunter safety certificate can compete. Team members will need to abide by the Prairie du Chien Athletic Code.
Kohler said that people seeking more information about the Clay Target Team or to donate can call (608) 412-5416.
The Clay Target Team is one of three opportunities for students in Prairie du Chien’s outdoor program. The other two opportunities include the Martin Adkins Archery Club and “Into the Outdoors” at Bluff View. Outdoor program activities are extra-curricular.
“Into the Outdoors combines science and outdoor education through a variety of year round activities,” said Kohler. For example, this past Thursday after school, Kohler was showing students how to skin a muskrat and stretch the pelt. Students were also making colony muskrat traps which they will set in an area stream. “Trapping is an important opportunity for kids to see land a little bit differently than other outdoors persons,” said Kohler.
Other outdoor educational projects that students can participate in include prairie restoration in back of the school, a black walnut seedling project, bluebird nesting research in the spring, fly tying and fly fishing, making arrows with fletchings made from turkey feathers, and other activities as time allows.
“Into the Outdoors goes all year long,” said Kohler. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about the outdoors and the biological aspect while having fun and interacting in a social group. It allows for students to mentor students and it promotes life long activities.”