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Auburn Trap Shooting Club hosts youth teams, teaches safety

By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Auburn Trap Club

  • 11540 Lorenson Road, Auburn
  • 885-5748 or auburntrapclub.net
  • Members: The annual membership fee is $50 for shooting from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Guests are allowed.

The Auburn Trap Shooting Club was started in the late 1940s in a cow pasture off Auburn-Folsom Road, owned by Orin Ellingston, before moving to its current location on Lorenson Road. The old traps were operated manually by one man sitting at the 25-yard line, cocking and releasing the clay targets with a long steel rod. Today the clay disks are released automatically by a machine encased in a wooden “house,” 16 to 27 yards away.

Aiming for a total of 25 clays, the shooter moves through five stations facing the meadow from slightly different angles. The firearm used is either a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun.

“It’s not hard to learn if you have any sort of hand of eye coordination,” said Chris Slane, club president and chief operation officer. He added that although trap shooting has traditionally been a man’s sport, many women shoot now, too. “In my opinion the only thing the men do better than the women is push a heavy object up a hill,” Slane said.

Slane started trap shooting in the late ‘80s, but when his son started competing age 11, he traveled with him and began shooting more regularly. His son stopped shooting in high school, but still holds some records for trap shooting.

One of the club’s major goals is to promote firearms safety. When not at the firing line, all guns are carried with the breech open and unloaded and are brought to and from the firing line with the muzzles pointed toward the ground or sky. On the firing line, use of eye and ear protection is required.

In an effort to reach into the community and recruit younger members, the club provides shells, ammunition and instruction to local Boy Scouts who are pursuing a shotgun shooting merit badge. Seven school teams compete in their own league and use the club’s fields to train.

One of the youth teams that train at the club is the Junior Del Oro Trap Team for sixth- through eighth-graders. Kendal Benoit is 10 years old and is competing with the team for the second year. The Newcastle Elementary School student said she began trap shooting when her grandpa took her out to the field to try it. “It’s really fun,” Benoit said. “I like that you can meet new people and they’re usually all nice.” Unlike many school sports, there is no “bench” in trap shooting and the teams are co-ed; everyone on the team gets an equal chance to shoot clay targets.

The club consists of about 300 members, but it’s growing. The board and all of the people helping new and young trap shooters are volunteers. Slane said a large part of the members’ contributions go to support local halfway homes for women, Placer football and other sporting teams and sponsoring young shooters whose families don’t have the resources. “We gave about $11,000 to the community last year,” Slane said. “To me that’s more important — that the club contributes to the community.” The club also sponsors youth competitions and charity shoots, and is a site for registered competitive shoots staged under the auspices of the Pacific International Trap Shooting Association.

Although the trap club is private, guests may shoot on certain days upon appointment. First-timers will be given a short history on the sport, a lot of safety about the gun and its potential and everything else they need to learn how to trap shoot. There is no age limit, but Slane said they are more cautious with younger people and are watchful of their maturity and safety. “We suggest the younger ones start with a smaller gun,” Slane said. “They wobble.”