In 1901, a program was distributed for a state level shooting competition in Great Falls. Dates and rules were listed, along with information on discounted railroad fare to and from the city, and directions regarding which street car would shuttle passengers to the shooting grounds. That was the Eighth Annual Montana State Sportsmen’s Association Tournament. Every four years since, the tournament (which is on a rotating schedule) has returned to Great Falls. This year marks the 124th Montana State Trap Shoot, making it quite possibly the oldest continually running tradition in the state.
“I don’t know of a sporting event that’s older,” says Tom Gordon, a board member and past president of the Great Falls Trap Club.
But why has it endured all these years?
“Because it’s fun,” says Jim Jones, (national) President of the Amateur Trapshooting Association.
Jones explains that it doesn’t matter how old or what gender you are; anyone can enjoy trapshooting. Several women and youth have won tournaments over the years. In fact, the youth program is the fastest growing component of ATA.
“It’s so neat to see the grin on a kid’s face when they hit their target,” says Gordon.
Jones adds that it’s never too late to experience the joy of trapshooting.
“Go to your local trap club and introduce yourself. If you need help there are people who will help you get started,” he says. “Some clubs will loan you a gun for your first shoot. If you are trying to figure out what kind of gun to buy, some people will let you shoot their gun for a couple rounds if you ask them.”
The comradery of trapshooting is one of the sport’s most attractive qualities. All Montana State Trapshooting Association clubs are run by volunteers who maintain and staff the facilities. Gordon claims that the volunteer work with his fellow members can be as fun as the shooting.
“It’s real rewarding,” he says.
The Great Falls Trap Club is located at 183 I-15 Frontage Road near Ulm. For more information, visit shootata.com or call (406) 453-5032.