High School shooting sports most likely doesn’t come to mind when thinking of sunny California. However, there is a high school principal who is making his mark and changing that perception. Justin Kern became principal at Gridley High School in 2017, where shortly after he pitched the idea of a trap shooting team to the school board. In the spring of 2018, the Gridley High School Trap Team was officially born.
Since their inception, the team has doubled in size, and has since been awarded two grants from The NRA Foundation. In 2019, the first grant of $10,700 provided them with clays, shot shells, ear protection, and six new shotguns. The second grant, in 2020, was for $11,000 and provided a trailer-towed clay thrower, which is a safer and more reliable system than throwing clay targets by hand.
Upfront costs for team players are just $35 thanks to The NRA Foundation grants. “These grants have helped a lot because we haven’t had to pass the insurance and registration cost down to the kids,” Principle Kern says. “The generosity of The NRA Foundation also led the students to help volunteer at their local Friends of NRA banquet, where they help setup, clean up, greet guests and more. They look forward to volunteering at future Friends of NRA events.”
Not only are the students provided with the tools they need, they are also taught how to be a responsible firearm owner and sportsman. Before being able to pick up a shotgun, each student must first complete a hunter’s education course. After that, they continue more education in safety, firearms maintenance, proper technique, and even patterning of the shotguns which has to do with a number of things such as the shotguns choke and the correct fit. Principal Kern believes it is important to teach proper use of firearms. This also brings all types of kids together, no matter the gender or age. This is Principal Kern’s favorite aspect of the shooting team. “Unlike other high school sports, you don’t need to be the fastest, biggest or strongest to be on the trap team to be the best,” he noted.
Thanks to The NRA Foundation grants this team has received, the students were able to continue practice during the uncertain times of 2020. “The NRA Foundation and Friends of NRA were critical in all this.” Principal Kern said. “Without their support, the team may have not made it through the shutdown of 2020. As for their team goals, they hope to continue to educate the students about the shooting sports well into the future.