Herald JournalHerald Journal, Mar. 22, 2004

Three of state’s top five trap-shooters hail from New Germany

By Ryan Gueningsman

In a tone much quieter than the blast of a shotgun, Romie Sinnen of New Germany speaks with much modesty about his accomplishments on the trapshooting range.

He is one of the best trapshooters in the state of Minnesota, and will be inducted into the Minnesota Trapshooting Hall of Fame this summer.

Sinnen, now 76, is passing down his love of the sport to Nick and Chad Kubasch, also of the New Germany area.

The three have competed in several state trapshooting tournaments. During the summer months, Sinnen shoots at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club, in Carver County’s Watertown league, as well as at the Park Gun Club in Maple Plain.

The Kubasch brothers both shoot in the Watertown league, as well as part of Watertown-Mayer High School’s FFA trapshooting team. The two attend high school at Watertown Mayer and have been trapshooting since childhood.

Sinnen started trapshooting in 1968, to “practice for bird hunting,” he said. Since then, he has participated in tournaments across the United States, including one in Reno, Nev. where he was highest overall. He has also won four Minnesota state titles, as well as several titles in other states.

Sinnen and Nick Kubasch both had a 2003 singles average of 97 percent accuracy, and Chad Kubasch had 95 percent accuracy. Nick Kubasch is tied right now for best in the nation.

“That’s the top of the ladder,” Nick Kubasch said. “The tough part would be staying there.”

What is trapshooting?

Trapshooting is the sport of shooting at clay pigeons that are hurled upward in such a way as to simulate the flight of a bird.

Shooters register with the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) and receive a membership card. The ATA will then keep track of all scores and averages. The records are used for handicapping and classifying shooters.

Registered trapshooting is competition that is regulated by the ATA. Gun clubs host shoots in accordance with ATA rules, but they must apply and register for each shoot.

The shooter is required to shoot at a target after he calls “pull.” It does not matter in scoring if the shooter hits only a small piece of the target or whether he shatters the target. If the target is not hit, it is a “lost” bird. It is the shooter’s responsibility to check his own score.

In registered trapshooting, the rules specify that targets must be thrown no less than 48 yards, no more than 52 yards, and should be between eight and 12 feet high and 10 yards from the trap. Shooters stand a minimum of 16 yards from the trap houses.

The ATA serves as the protector of the sport, according to the organization’s web site. The ATA was founded in 1900 as the American Trapshooting Association, and later changed to the Amateur Trapshooting Association in 1923. Its national headquarters are in Vandalia, Ohio.  

Last year, 54,208 members participated in some 6,275 registered tournaments throughout North America. Shooters are broken into categories. Sub juniors are those shooters 16 years old and under. Right now, this is what Chad Kubasch is classified as.

The next level is a junior level, with the age range being from 16 to 18. Nick Kubasch is currently shooting at the junior level, but both brothers will be advancing a level soon.

The widest age range is the men’s from 18 to 65 years of age. Veterans are considered 65 to 70, and senior veterans are those shooters above 70 years old. Women shooters have their own category.

“Any age can do it,” Sinnen said. “I’m 60 years older than these guys but I’m still at it.”

The age groups are then broken down into classes ranging from AA down to D, depending on averages.

Winter is a downtime for trapshooters, but once summer rolls around they are shooting every week. Eye and ear protection is a must. The sport doesn’t receive much fanfair, but family members and friends are supportive.

“It’s mostly family and friends that come out,” Sinnen said. “It’s kind of a boring sport to watch.”

Nick Kubasch said that more school-aged children should get involved in trapshooting if it is something that interests them.

“At some smaller shoots, we were the only junior or sub-juniors showing up, so we need more people,” Kubasch said. This summer, a junior team, as well as Sinnen, will be heading off to the Grand American World Trapshooting Championships in Vandalia in August.

“It’s kind of addictive,” Sinnen said. “It gets in your blood and you just want to do it.”

Other locals in the Trapshooting HOF

Sinnen joins Robert and Lou Ann Munson of Howard Lake, who were selected to the Minnesota Trapshooting Hall of Fame in 1988.

Ed Mylnar of Lester Prairie was inducted in 1996, Ray Steffenson of Dassel in 2000, and Allen Heil of Glencoe in 1991.


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