Last Monday was Ladies Night at the Minot Gun Club. The turnout numbered nearly 25 shooters, a testament to the growth and increasing popularity of women's shooting.
Mark Vickerman, Minot Gun Club president, found himself behind the counter on Ladies Night, signing up shooters and assigning traphouses. Vickerman traded roles with manager Sharon Reistad so that Reistad could participate on the shooting line.
"She puts it together, organizes the whole thing, so she deserves the opportunity to shoot," said Vickerman. "Women's shooting has picked up in all aspects of shooting. This program started out two or three years ago with, maybe, five ladies. At our spring Ladies Night there was 55 rounds of trap shot."
Trapshooting is a family affair for Nancy Mahoney, Minot, and her three daughters. All participated in Ladies Night last Monday at the Minot Gun Club. Left to right are: Tylo Mahoney, Nancy Mahoney, Alexis Getzlaff and Alaynee Thompson.
The evening began with a potluck meal which was followed by multiple trips to the shooting line by many of the participants.
"Sometimes the women are pretty intimidated when there's a bunch of men up here," said Reistad. "This is a way to allow them to come out and shoot and get to know it and get involved."
Involved they were, repetitively breaking clay targets and checking scores. Many of the shooters proved to be very competitive, another reflection of the increased interest in the shooting sports by women. Several of the shooters this past Monday were taking the opportunity to receive some advice to enhance their ability with a shotgun.
"We are really lucky to have two ladies go through the NRA school and become instructors," explained Reistad. "That gives us the woman factor out here to help them and we have so many more youth females shooting. Certified coaches to help newcomers is such a benefit to us and they are more than happy to help."
One of the newly certified coaches is Alexis Getzlaff of Minot. She was enjoying Ladies Night, putting her 1963 Browning Superposed to work with some friendly competition against her mother and sisters.
"I actually started out hunting. I like hunting a lot," said Getzlaff. "Then I came out here and just took the natural ability to it. I like trapshooting. It is something you can just enjoy and you don't have to be good at it to do it."
Getzlaff is rated as a certified Junior Trainer and the winner of a title at the recent State Trapshoot. She also broke her share of targets this past Monday, including clays during a round with her mother at an adjacent shooting station.
"These are my three daughters. They talk me into shooting with them every once in a while," said Nancy Mahoney. "I broke a few but they outbreak me every time."
The comment drew smiles from Getzlaff, Alaynee Thompson and the youngest of the sisters - 13-year-old Tylo Mahoney.
"I started shooting at age 11 and I outshoot mom," laughed Tylo.
Thompson, who also claimed to have broken more clays than her mother, said she enjoys trapshooting because of the fellowship factor and calming effect it has on her.
"It is really fun to go out with the family, hang out and shoot. It's really fun!" said Thompson.
"My husband also comes out here and shoots with us," added Nancy Mahoney.
Targets and shells were free of charge during Ladies Night. Those who showed up for an introduction to shotgunning were also provided with a shotgun and an instructor.
Rhonda Hodgson of Minot was among those taking advantage of Ladies Night.
"I like the power!" said Hodgson with a big smile. "I like to shoot with my daughter, her brothers and I shoot with my husband. We always have a family shoot."
The daughter referred to by Hodgson was Annie Smith, Minot. When asked if she broke more targets than her mother, Smith's one word reply was "duh." Smith quickly added, "I like it because it is something me and my mom can do together. It is nice and relaxing and it is fun."
The increase in the number of women shooting is only part of the recent growth at the Minot Gun Club. Overall numbers have increased in what Vickerman calls "a very successful year."
"We've had a lot of new shooters this year with a lot of new people to the area. We've had a lot of people from the southern states that are here with the oil that have been coming out and shooting," said Reistad. "Our membership has grown tremendously. We're busy all the time and they seem to be really enjoying it."
The growth has been evident at the club's skeet range too, where enough shooters have shown interest to resurrect league shooting that has been missing for several seasons. In addition, says Vickerman, the club has received a Pittman-Robertson grant to add voice-activation to four additional traphouses, completing the update to all of the club's main traphouses.