The participation numbers remain steady for the Mitchell High School Trapshooting team.
This year, 33 Kernels are participating in the South Dakota High School Clay Target League. Last season, the MHS Trapshooting team had 35 shooters and 14 the year before.
"We have a lot of new shooters this year over what we had last year and some really good shooters," trapshooting coach Jerry Opbroek said. "We have quite a crew of eighth graders and ninth graders. So we have a bunch of new young shooters."
The team consists of sixth-graders to seniors in high school, with both male and female athletes competing on the same team. This season, there are seven female shooters on the team.
"We've got quite a crew of eighth graders and ninth graders and they go back and talk to their buddies and then we get a few more of them," Opbroek said about the growth of the team.
Mitchell's growth in the sport is similar to the entire state. The state's 39 teams are put into two classes (1A and 2A). The two classes are then split into conferences. Class 1A has three conferences and Class 2A has two conferences. Conferences are determined by team size rather than geographic location for fair competition.
Mitchell competes in Conference 1 of Class 2A, along with Bowdle, Canton, Dakota Valley, Elk Point/Vermillion and Platte.
The scoring is done through virtual scoring, with shooters competing at their local shooting ranges. The scores will be submitted online and they will be compared against other teams in their respective conference.
The Kernel team will shoot on Monday and Tuesday nights at the Mitchell Gun Club. The season started earlier this week and it will continue until the week of May 19. The state tournament is June 8-9 in Aberdeen.
Each shooter will attempt 50 shots each league night, broken into two sessions of 25 shots, with five shots each coming from five different locations on an arc-shaped concrete pad. Each shooter receives a score out of 25, and the scores are kept for a season average heading into the state tournament.
Opbroek said no individual shooter has separated itself from the pack. But instead a host of Kernels have been consistent early on.
"Competition is the name of the game," Opbroek said. "Fun, safety and competitive attitude are what it is all about."