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'There will be more'; Oak Grove girls clay target shooters hoping to pave path for next generation

Kailtyn Gaeu and Sara Carr joined the Grovers when just three other females were on the trap shooting team.

Oak Grove girls trap shooters
Oak Grove senior Sara Carr gets a few practice rounds in before North Dakota's clay target state tournament.
Zach Staton/WDAY
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HORACE — On Saturday morning, one of North Dakota's fastest growing sports returns to a championship stage.

Clay target shooters will flock to the Horace Shooting Park for the 2022 North Dakota state tournament.

"I love the thrill of it. You come back every week, you get better," said Oak Grove senior Kaitlyn Gaeu.

The Grovers were one of four teams to shoot in the first state tournament in 2015.

When Gaeu joined the team a few years later, she noticed something straight away.

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"Probably be only one girl shooting with four other boys," she remembered.

The 2018 team saw just five girls participate.

"You have all of these guys around you," senior Sara Carr said. "I'm like, 'Oh, am I supposed to be here?'"

"You'd be shaking because you're the only girl here and you want to show off, but you can't show off," Gaeu said.

It wasn't about not wanting to shoot with the boys, but rather not having more girls to compare scores with and relate to about any struggles.

"I would've been terrified to ask one of the guys around me, 'How do you do this?'" Carr said.

It was girls like Carr and Gaeu who wanted to make sure those that followed them had an easier time getting comfortable on the range.

So they kept going back to the shooting parks every chance they could, while spreading the word to as many girls as possible about the team.

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"We got up to 7 or 9 this year, which is amazing," Gaeu said.

"I heard about the environment from other people in the past from Oak Grove, and they said they had so much fun with it and I wanted to try it out," said Oak Grove freshman Aspyn Kjos.

The sport is seeing females pave more trails for the next generation. North's Taylor Martin became the school's first female shooter to sign with a college program. She's heading to Jamestown for trap shooting and golf.

Those examples are making there mark.

"Seeing that more girls are joining, I think it was very comfortable to me," Kjos said. "Especially at a younger age, seeing older girls in it, and it motivated me to join."

"There's more girls out here and I think in the years to come, there will be more and more," Gaeu said.

Oak Grove will shoot with the Class 3A field in the state tournament on Monday, which will wrap up the three-day event.

Zach Staton joined WDAY as a sports reporter in 2018. He grew up in Salem, Virginia loving any sport he could play or watch. Staton graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in Communication Studies before getting his Master's in Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a Sports Communication Emphasis from Syracuse University.
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