Trapshoot a big draw in Missoula
By Hookemharry

Posted: May 9, 2002

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you end up falling into another trap. In my case, I am talking about the Missoula Trap and Skeet Club.

Steve Sautter, of Missoula, who happens to be a member of the local club, asked me if I would be interested in doing my statewide hunting and fishing radio show live on-location on Saturday May 11 from their club. The special occasion marks the 20th annual Ron Hoppe Memorial Trapshoot.

This three-day tournament starts on Friday and ends Sunday. Sautter says the club is expecting 200-plus shooters from all over the Northwest and Canada. It is one of the biggest trapshoots in this region.

What was surprising to me was how many people that I know participate in the sport. They just haven’t talked to me about it, which is surprising in itself now that I know how much most of them love to shoot trap.

After a visit to the club, located 10 miles west of Missoula on old highway 10, I was impressed with the operation and the folks who volunteer their time to make it work.

Yes, I said volunteer. You see the Missoula Trap and Skeet Club is a non-profit organization. They have around 400 members ($25 annual dues for individuals and family dues are even a better deal), but you don’t have to be a member to try it out.

The club offers trap, skeet and clay recreational shooting, with fall, winter and spring night leagues. Shooting fees are currently $3 per round for trap and skeet and $3.50 for clays.

Trapshooting has been around since the 1700’s and started in England where they actually used live pigeons as targets. In 1880, a fellow named George Ligowsky of Cincinnati came up with the idea for clay targets.

At that time, not only live pigeons and other birds were being used, but shooters were also using glass balls filled with feathers along with iron bird-shaped targets. The first platter-shaped targets Ligowsky made were from clay, a brick-type substance baked in an oven. However, the were difficult to break, so he went to a mixture of limestone and pitch. That mixture held together when thrown, plus broke when hit by a shotgun blast and is now the standard of the industry. They are still referred to as “clay pigeons” or “clay birds.”

The local club touts a couple of shooters who have fared well in national competition. Jim Clawson has competed in the Olympic trials of trapshooting and Dene Cogdill is classified as an All-American skeet shooter. According to Sautter, over the course of a year, Cogdill shot 11,000 registered targets and hit 97.5 percent of them. He accomplished it in four different gauges 410, 28, 20 and 12.

For more information on the club and trapshoot, you are welcome to come out this weekend or you can listen to KGVO from 6 to 10 a.m. Saturday where we’ll be talking a lot about it on the Montana Outdoor Radio Show.

FISHING REPORT: Spring run-off is just starting to hit Western Montana rivers. The river conditions change just about every day, depending on the weather. On the Blackfoot, the Mother’s Day caddis hatch might be your best bet. The Bitterroot River is it is not yet blown out with runoff and will likely produce with Gray Drakes. Rock Creek should be your best bet because it always the last area river to blow out. Doug Persico of Rock Creek Fisherman’s Mercantile (825-6440) reports there are good hatches of mayflies and caddis. Salmonflies are expected to hatch any week now. In fact, Persico stops and checks the bushes on the creek for signs on his way to work every morning so he will probably be the first to know when the annual salmonfly madness will begin on the creek.