Packer trapshooting team is off to a solid start

Published 6:55 pm Thursday, October 17, 2013

From left: Austin’s John Ferris, Jacob Browning and Seth Gerber have all had big fall seasons with the Packer trap shooting team. -- Rocky Hulne/

From left: Austin’s John Ferris, Jacob Browning and Seth Gerber have all had big fall seasons with the Packer trapshooting team. — Rocky Hulne/

When Austin High School started a clay target shooting team last spring, many of the local youth hunters were intrigued, but they weren’t sure what to expect.

As the team is in the midst of its fall season, the Packers couldn’t be doing much better. After three weeks of play, they led the 8-team 4A conference with 64 points – second place Northfield has 53 points – and they have three male shooters in the top four of the conference.

Jacob Browning, an Austin senior who is ranked No. 19 in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League, with an average of 22.83, said he now looks forward to shooting days at the Cedar Conservation Club on Mondays almost as much as he looks forward to hunting trips.

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“I knew there were teams around the state, but I didn’t think we’d ever have one in Austin,” Browning said. “We’re pretty surprised to be No. 1 in our first year.”

Austin junior John Ferris is ranked No. 4 in the state with a 23.67 average and Austin eighth-grader Seth Gerber is ranked No. 7 in the state with a 23.33 average.

Ferris loves the action that clay shooting involves as opposed to the patience it requires to go hunting.

“There’s a lot more going on,” Ferris said of the clay shooting league. “Hunting is fun when you get something, but it can be a lot of sitting around.”

Gerber is younger than most of his teammates, but he’s holding his own and learning from his elders. He said the meets give him good practice for hunting.

“The meets are fun. Personally, I like hunting better,” Gerber said.

Austin’s Kaylee Maxfield is the 11th ranked female shooter in the state with an average of 19.

The Clay Target League holds meets by having every school shoot at its home site and then all of the results are sent to a central location and tallied. The fall season serves as a bit of a warm-up as the state tournament is held in the spring.

Austin head coach Gus Maxfield said he has been very pleased with the team so far as the squad has 38 team members this fall. Every shooters’ score counts towards the team average score, so it truly is a team sport.

“The kids have really stepped it up. It takes a lot of practice,” Maxfield said. “They’re always trying to out-do themselves and out-do each other.”

Maxfield said Browning, Ferris and Gerber stepped up as leaders immediately and they’ve helped their less experienced teammates get better at target shooting.

“They had a little bit more experience to start with,” Maxfield said. “They were all hunters, and they picked it up pretty quick. They’ve been the leaders since the beginning.”