Trapshooting, or clay pigeon shooting, has existed in the world for centuries. It has been a sport since the late 18th century, when live carrier pigeons were used, before they were replaced in favor of targets, which is where the name clay pigeons originated. The sport of trapshooting has been an Olympic event since the year 1900.

It is fairly simple: a shooter uses a gun, normally a 12 gauge, to hit a moving target. The sport uses throwing machines to present the targets to the competitors. Sometimes, two targets are presented to the shooters simultaneously.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, a number of lucky students got the chance to try the sport out, thanks in part to their Lifetime activities course taught by Coach Lance Foulk and the help of local Missouri conservation agents Derek Warnke and Tyler Brown and District Supervisor Mike Jones.

Foulk and the two agents organized the event, giving roughly forty students the opportunity to try a sport they might not have otherwise ever tried.

“Mike Jones contacted me about doing it with the classes, and thought trapshooting might be a good activity,” Coach Foulk said. “He’s come in before. We’ve done air rifles, fishing and archery. We started this class when we got the new high school. The class is an elective, and opens up new sports and games to the student, from trapshooting to hibachi ball. It gets kids outside.”

But for the agents of the Missouri Department of Conservation, there were other motives for giving the students a gun.

The issue of gun regulation has been a strong and heated debate across the nation after the tragedy of Sandy Hook and the Colorado movie theater shootings.

Missouri  Department of Conservation agent Tyler Brown saw this as an opportunity to educate youth about gun safety.

“We’re using this opportunity to introduce junior and senior high school students into the shooting sports,” Brown said. “The big thing with all of our shooting programs is firearms safety. By giving the students a chance to actually get hands-on experience with the firearms, we hope to teach safety first and foremost.”

Brown says that the department has done this type of program all of the time across the state, and did something similar with Foulk in the past summer using pellet guns.

The program is simple enough. With a small squad of conservation agents in attendance, the agents organized the students, giving each shooter a one-on-one opportunity with an agent, with four different guns available for students to try under supervision.

“We’re giving them a short tutorial at the beginning about muzzle control and teaching them what the parts of the firearm are,” Brown said. “We establish the shooter’s dominant eye and try to teach good sight acquisition; the clays are flying fast, and they have to got them.”

Judging from students’ reactions, it seems to have been a positive experience.

Juniors Rachael Reed and Cody Farrant had never tried trapshooting before.

"It's a lot easier than you think it is. It is still really hard because they are flying targets," Reed said.

"I thought it was sketchy at first," Farrant said. Farrant, however, had fun, saying he learned that you cannot judge a book by its cover.

For others, such Camdenton's trapshooting team members Morgan Haas, Courtney Loge and Cory Gideon, it was just another round of practice.

Gideon, a Camdenton senior, has competed in trapshooting in all four years of his high school career, and has been awarded a scholarship to Lindenwood University in St. Charles for trapshooting.

"It's a good experience for these kids to know what's going on and get a little bit more educated on the subject because there really is not very many kids that shoot these days," Gideon said. "It's good for everyone to come out and participate."

Trapshooting has a special relevance for lake area, which is the home to one of the largest shooting ranges in the world. Given this opportunity, the sport of trapshooting may have just gained a stronger foothold at the lake.

“Some of them were scared, were afraid they might screw up,” Coach Foulk said. “But that’s life. You have to go out and have a little adventure, and if you screw up, you screw up. But that’s why we have all of the agents here with them, walking them through it. I hope we can do it again.”