GREAT FALLS — The 127th annual Montana State Trap Shoot is underway in Great Falls for the first time since 2017; the competition rotates between four cities.
"Oh, it's great,” Great Falls Trap & Skeet Club president Mike Houseman said of the competition.
"Some people, that's the only time you see them is at the state shoot, so yeah, it's wonderful. That's more of what it's about than the shooting, is just the camaraderie and friendship you develop over the years,” said Houseman. "You meet people from all over the state of Montana. We have people here from Wyoming, Utah, Washington, New Zealand, back east. We have a lot of people from all over the country that come to this."
On Wednesday morning, shooters were busy getting in some practice.
"It's pretty nice. It helps the economy of Great Falls. I'm hoping there'll be 350 (people) this year probably,” shooter Bret Preeshl said.
"It's a competition where everybody comes up, we shoot singles targets, handicap targets, and doubles targets, and we crown the Montana state champion,” Houseman explained. "Basically, you're shooting clay targets coming out of a trap machine with shotguns. Each event is 100 rounds, so best four out of 100 rounds is the winner."
Preeshl said the 2021 competition presents a unique challenge: "The challenging part this year is probably finding shells to shoot. Supply and demand right now is really behind, so it's making it tough for new shooters to start."
"You need to have at least 14 trap houses in order to hold the state shoot,” Houseman said, "and there's only four cities in Montana - Great Falls, Missoula, Helena, and Billings - that have enough trap houses to hold the state shoot."
Great Falls will host next year's competition as well, even though the competition typically rotates through the cities, as the original host city backed out.