Fairmont Area foursome takes aim at state clay targets
FAIRMONT — “Pull.” Bang, crack. Those are the repetitive sounds at the Fairmont Trap Club during clay target meets.
A competitor yelling ‘pull,’ the bang of their gun and the crack of the target.
This year, four Fairmont Area competitors have qualified for the state individual clay target meet on June 21 in Prior Lake.
Jacob Bocock, Colby Grotte, Max Seifried and Tucker Bahr all finished in the top 100 out of 13,000 state competitors and will look to break 100 out of 100 targets to try for first place.
Fairmont Area head coach Todd Segar said having four competitors end the season in the top 100 is fantastic.
“There’s 13,000 kids in the state who do this, so for four of them to end up in the top 100, they had to average 47 out of 50 or better,” Segar said. “Two of my guys on the second squad were on the bubble and they faltered and fell out of the top 100, but my other four, especially Jacob (Bocock) really shot good all year. That’s what he does, he shoots all summer long, he’s gonna shoot (after the Big South Conference meet Wednesday).”
Last year, four individuals broke 100 targets, so the competition will be tough.
Segar said each of the boys has a chance at the championship.
“Out of the four, I think they have a chance,” Segar said. “Jacob (Bocock) for sure, Colby (Grotte) probably has a good chance, but they have to almost put up 100 so they can’t even miss one, that’s the crazy part of this game.”
Segar said shooting in Wednesday’s Big South Conference clay target meet might help prepare the boys for what they will see at the state meet because they got to shoot earlier in the day instead of the late evening when most meets are. He said the state meet will be midday no matter the weather.
“We’ve shot up there in rain, we’ve shot up there in wind,” Segar said. “Wind is a funny thing for this game, it’s like throwing a frisbee. It’ll be interesting.”
The four boys made the state competition after all averaging more than 47 out of 50 targets hit through the season. Bocock averaged 49.2 to end as the sixth-ranked competitor in the state, Grotte and Seifried both averaged 48 to rank 43rd and Bahr averaged 47.8 to rank 59th.
“Last year I barely made the top 100 and this year I was ranked sixth, so I feel like I shot really good this season,” Bocock said. “Everyone that made it deserved it, they worked hard throughout the whole season.”
Bocock is the only competitor of the four who shot with the eighth-place Cardinal state team last year, though Seifried went to the meet as an alternate.
Seifried said though the team is full of new competitors this season, he thinks both he, as an individual, and the program improved.
“I think as a team we had a lot of new guys coming in and we had to teach them the ropes to take our place,” Seifried said. “I think we improved a lot. Individually I practice more and it showed in the end.”
At the team meet last year, Bocock hit a 100-target round of 49-47-96 to finish third on the Cardinals behind Nick Segar and Jackson Francis, who each shot 49-49-98.
Todd Segar said because of team growth, the Fairmont Area squad was moved up to Class 9, the biggest classification, pairing the Cardinals with some of the biggest schools in the state, which made it more difficult to qualify as a team for the state meet this season.
“We have 83 kids, so that puts us up with some really big schools,” Segar said. “They rank you not on school enrollment or where you’re at in the state, but on your team. … Right away when we started shooting, we ended up middle of the pack in our conference and we never really gained and we never really fell. It’s hard to move up once you establish a couple of scores. It’s kinda like when you have good grades in school and you get a good grade on the next test, you don’t really move up that far. We had decent nights, average nights, but we just never got high enough to move up.”
With bigger competition comes bigger goals and better equipment. Each competitor brings their own goals into the individual event this year.
Seifried said he would like to shoot more than 96 out of 100, while Bahr said he’d like to hit at least 95. Segar said the equipment some of the best use to achieve these goals comes at a lofty price.
“The tools they’re using, it’s usually around a $2,500 to $3,000 gun,” Segar said. “The one Colby (Grotte) is shooting, the one that won’t leave his shoulder, is like a $15,000 gun. That’s like a Harley Davidson sitting on his shoulder.”
Along with his gun, Grotte also spends time with golf clubs in his hands during the spring. He said having both activities fills up his spring schedule.
“It’s busy,” Grotte said. “Those and school, I’m good at both sports, so it’s just a lot of practice to keep it going.”
Grotte said after all that practice, it’s a great feeling to be going to state.
“I worked my rear end off in school to keep my grades up and the practice, practice, practice,” Grotte said. “Now it’s one bird at a time.”
Each competitor has spent the practice time to earn their way to the state meet because they enjoy the sport, but Bahr seemed to sum it up best.
“I love to shoot guns, pretty much,” Bahr said.