Story by Alida Farrens ’20, Photo courtesy of Anna Feldman ’20

Accuracy, speed and concentration are just a few skills necessary in order to be a successful trap shooter. Trap shooting has become an excellent way for Marian students to meet girls who share a common interest: shooting shotguns. 

For junior Grace Walsh, shooting guns and going turkey hunting are regular activities she does with her Grandpa. “I go hunting with my Grandpa, and we have a really great time. We usually hunt turkeys, but occasionally we hunt deer,” Walsh said.

Many Marian girls who hunt recreationally are also involved in trap shooting.

Trap shooting is a five-position shotgun sport that consists of numerous squads. Each squad has five girls, and the main goal is to break the orange targets that get shot into the air. One round has 25 orange targets. A meet consists of 50 targets at the 16-yard line and 50 targets at the handicap yardage. The handicap yardage can be anywhere from 18-25 yards. Where one shoots during the handicap yardage all depends on how well one shot at the 16-yard line. 

Mr. Bruce Esser, one of Marian’s former Physics teachers and Director of Technology, was the head coach of the trap shooting team from 2004 up until last year. 

“Trap bring students from all parts of Marian together. For some girls, trap shooting is the only activity they are involved in within the school community. The sport teaches many lessons like focus and how to handle competition,” Esser said. 

Esser started his trap shooting career at Marian in 2003. He needed to find at least five girls who would be willing to join the team and could handle the bitter cold weather. “The first year the team began, the girls came in third in the Nebraska State Championship. I think it was just pure luck, but the team has grown a lot since then,” Esser said. “Since then they have won 8 state team championships.”

Currently, almost every public Class A school has a trap shooting team. The sport has been popularized and has grown immensely. 

“Trap shooting is a great experience for all girls. I absolutely loved teaching here at Marian. The goal is not to win, but to do better each time,” Esser said. 

This year there are several coaches for the trap team, but the main ones consist of Scott Peterson, David Uden, Rich Tracy and Jeff Genoways. Esser still helps out when he gets the chance. 

Ms. Megan Piernicky, one of Marian’s English teachers, has a love for trap that not many students know about. 

After growing up watching her dad shoot handguns, Piernicky wanted to give trap shooting a try. “Trap shooting has become a special bonding experience for my dad and I. We have had opportunities to travel together and compete in competitions with people of all different age groups,” Piernicky said. 

Piernicky decided that she wanted to keep trap shooting separate from her work experience which is why she is not involved with the Marian team. “Trap shooting is time set aside that I am able to be with my dad. We have so much fun, and I would never want it to become a ‘work’ thing. Sometimes I see Marian students at meets and events which is really nice,” Piernicky said. 

To Piernicky, trap shooting is one of the greatest activities a girl can try. “At Marian, we excel in the arts, academics and sports, but trap shooting fills a different niche for other girls. It is a confidence builder and makes women feel powerful and strong,” Piernicky said. 

In order to join the trap shooting team or even hunt recreationally, you must complete a hunter’s gun safety course. According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, people ages 12-29 must complete a hunter education course before buying a firearm, hunting crossbow or bow-hunting license. 

Out of the 218 students who answered the November and December Network Google survey, 14.6 percent of students said that they have taken a hunter’s gun safety course. Only 11 percent of students said that they have been hunting. 

Sophomore Malerie Birkel, an avid turkey hunter, pheasant hunter and trap shooter at Marian, said that she has taken the hunter’s safety course online. “I learned about all types of firearms including musket loaders and crossbows. The entire process took me about eight hours to complete and was definitely worth it,” Birkel said.

Trap shooting is definitely not one of the most popular sports at Marian, and because it is not an NSAA activity, it does not receive the support and student involvement that soccer, volleyball and basketball do. However, for those who are involved, it has been a life-changing experience.

“Trap shooting has taught me how to have patience and work with a team. It’s a great bonding experience and has brought me closer to so many Marian girls,” Sophomore Lexi Rowe said. 

“The goal is not only to break the targets, but on my team, the goal is to improve, be safe, have fun and learn,” Senior Anna Feldman, one of last year’s trap shooting team captains, said.

“I feel like the Marian community doesn’t know a lot about trap shooting. It’s a very male-dominated sport, so I think it’s cool that a bunch of girls are dominating meets, and the Marian community should shine light on that,” Feldman said. 

Many stereotypes are placed on girls, and they can sometimes drive people away from being involved in the club. 

“Some stereotypes, specifically towards girls, are that we are delicate and that it’s a ‘man’s sport.’ I think the Marian team really breaks down the stereotype of ‘a girl can’t shoot’ and proves everyone wrong,” Feldman said. 

Many girls who compete in the trap shooting competitions would argue that it is a sport and that it should be taken just as seriously as any other sport offered at Marian. However, 38.4 percent of Marian students said that they do not consider trap shooting a sport.

“At Marian, Trap Shooting is a club due to safety reasons and the use of shotguns, but it is a sport. It is just as much of an individual sport as it is a team sport. There are team awards and individual awards given at meets,” Feldman said.  

The Marian trap shooting team also consists of girls from other schools. Because Duchesne Academy’s trap shooting team is also a club, Marian decided to combine the clubs to make one big team. Scott Peterson, the trap shooting team’s head coach, works at Omaha Northwest and has recruited some girls from there as well. 

The trap team just finished up with their fall season but they will be starting back up in early spring. The state meet is the first weekend in May and the girls are set on winning another state championship title. 

“I shot trap last year and I am continuing to shoot this year. I love shooting because of the fun environment and the excitement of the sport itself,” Birkel said.