The Mitchell Gun Club will again be the epicenter for South Dakota’s best young shooters.

The local club will host the South Dakota Junior Trapshooting Championships today and Sunday.

Mitchell Gun Club Manager Jerry Opbroek started the Kernel trapshooting team in 1985 and began hosting the annual youth tournament shortly thereafter. It’s been in Mitchell ever since.

But this year might be one of the most anticipated. The on-going coronavirus pandemic altered the South Dakota State High School Clay Target season and canceled the state tournament.

“I think they are certainly looking for something to do,” Opbroek said. “You get outside after being cooped up, and then of course we had to cancel the regular clay target league state tournament. I think a lot of those kids who certainly would have looked forward to shooting in that tournament, might very well come to this one as an alternative.”

Opbroek anticipates another abundance of shooters at the state event. He said more than 100 shooters have already pre-registered and more will register the day of the event.

There’s even a pair of teams from Iowa, along with local teams from Winner, Chamberlain and Platte will be in attendance.

There’s a registration and practice round from 3-6 p.m. today. Sunday’s registration is from 7-9:30 a.m., with the competition beginning at 10 a.m.

There will be three divisions: youth (ages 12 & under), junior (grades 6th-through-9th) and senior (10th-through-12th).

The events include 100 16-yard targets (individual or team), 50 handicap targets (handicap determined by 16-yard score) and a doubles championship.

Team trophies will be awarded for junior and senior champions and individual awards in all events. Girls division awards in individual events and special awards for 12U shooters.

The gun club will also practice and encourage social distancing guidelines. Opbroek points out the sport lends itself to social distancing, but the club won’t require shooters to wear masks while shooting.

“We are going to practice all of the COVID-19 things about maintaining safe distances and we won’t allow them to congregate in the clubhouse, just to kind of keep on the safe side,” Opbroek said.