Young guns: local youths start trap shooting club

April 12, 2019

POCATELLO — To continue competing in the sport he loves, Pocatello High School freshman Tanner Dye had to create his own team.

Before moving from California’s Sacramento area to Inkom in July 2018, Tanner was one of about 1,300 participants in competitive trap shooting through the California Youth Shooting Sports Association.

Upon discovering that Southeast Idaho had no trap shooting team for youths, Tanner, 15, and his father, a retired police officer from Vacaville, California, Todd Dye, started recruiting.

“We knew when we got here we’d join a team, and if there wasn’t one, we’d get one going,” Todd said.

Tanner and his father posted fliers at local gun clubs and sent emails to club members, seeking young marksmen. The initial youths who expressed interest spread word to friends.

In February, the Bannock Clay Busters became the newest addition to a national trap shooting program called USA Youth Education in Shooting Sports. The team currently has eight members and is seeking to grow.

Tanner has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the participants who have joined a new team competing in a niche sport.

“It’s not like a baseball team where you have all of the people in school do it,” Tanner said. “I was surprised that without a (trap shooting) team, there were a bunch of people who were still really good and formally trained.”

The Clay Busters have already competed in competitions in Salt Lake City and Logan, Utah, and they’ll be shooting again on Saturday in Burley and Sunday in Twin Falls. Their first home competition is scheduled for May 18 at the Pocatello Trap Club.

They shoot both trap and sporting clays — trap involves a single pigeon following a predictable course, while sport shooters may face multiple pigeons simultaneously coming from any direction. The team practices at both Pocatello Trap Club and Cedar Hills Gun Club in Blackfoot.

Jackie Morris, a director at Pocatello Trap Club, has agreed to be a helper for the team, which his business also sponsors. Furthermore, his grandson,

Ashton, is a team member.

“I’m going to help them with gun safety,” Morris said. “That’s one of our biggest issues. Every day before we shoot, they get asked the four safety rules.”

Tanner has been shooting trap since he was 9 years old. When he was 11, he and his father were shooting trap together at a California club. A man approached them and told them he was the coach of a youth team and invited Tanner to join.

“Once he got on the team, he realized this is his passion,” Todd said. “He’s been on track teams and cross country teams and marching band, but I think (trap shooting) is the biggest priority of all of those in his life.”

Todd had run a target range for several year for the Boy Scouts of America and had credentials to teach youths through the National Rifle Association. When two coaches from his son’s California team had to leave their positions for health reasons, Todd went through training and became the coach for two years, until his family moved to Idaho.

A Clay Buster’s parent, Darin Ames, and his son, Evan Ames, recently went to Sacramento to undergo training to help Todd as coaches. Evan, who also competes for the team, will assist as a junior coach until he turns 18 and is old enough to be an official coach.

Todd likes having older youths teach younger team members to develop their leadership skills.

“I have a 16-year-old high school girl mentoring 11-year-olds,” Todd said. “I think kids learn a lot better when given a chance to teach, as well.”

One of the things Tanner likes most about trap shooting is the camaraderie among competitors and the good sportsmanship that has been omnipresent. While shooting in California, he recalled having several tie-breaker rounds with the same opponent. They always shook hands and congratulated one another afterward.

“The main thing I’ve noticed about (trap shooting) as compared to other sports is there’s a lot of people who are more sportsmanlike,” Tanner said. “There are times I’ll be shooting with people from a completely different team, and when I’m changing stations they’ll give me a fist pump.”

Anyone who would like additional information about the team may contact Todd Dye at bannockclaybusters@gmail.com.