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Area shooting team hosts first state tournament

The 2013 Fargo Area Scholastic Target Team. Back Row (from left): Grant Lind, Parker Stone, Brendan Smith, Hunter Volden, Derek Larson, Anthony Heise, Brady Preston, Mason Kuhn, Jordan Gianokos, Joey Schwab, Devon Stroh. Front Row: Brody Smith, Joseph Mollet, Cody Dow, Lane Bohlman, Max Kuhn, Cooper Sahli, Cade Pederson, Levi Durbin, Paige Hennebry, Ellea Bachmeier, Shawna Pantzke. Not Pictured: Gavin Rook and Tanner Sande.

The Fargo Area Scholastic Target Team (FASTT), the only clay target trap-shooting team in North Dakota, held its first state tournament at the Shooting Park in Horace on Saturday, July 20.

The team is made up of 24 athletes - three girls and 21 boys - ranging between the ages of 12 and 18, and three coaches, with a group of parents and mentors helping out.

While the majority of active participants are from West Fargo, the team also has members from Fargo, Horace and Harwood.

The team had its first informational meeting in May, with only a few kids present By their next meeting a few weeks later, the team grew to its current number of 24 members, with more potential members hoping to join before the next season starts.

"It started with just my son and I shooting once a week," FASTT head coach Mark Sahli said. "It kind of took off like gangbusters from there. We actually had to turn some kids away."

Since they are the first and only target team in North Dakota, their "state tournament" was simply an intersquad competition. One hundred rounds were fired by each athlete, with nearly everyone besting their season average scores in the tournament.

Athletes medaled in eight different classifications, including ages, average scores and various skill groupings.

"We were told a state tournament meant we could qualify for the national tournament," Sahli said. "Ultimately, we decided to just concentrate on this year at the local level. It was a blast, though. We broke down kids by age group and shooting average and had a good time."

Along with shooting, the team heavily stresses responsible gun handling.

"One of the main things I stressed at our first meeting is safety," Sahli said. "Nothing is more important. Luckily, we didn't have to stress this too much. All of the kids listened, were respectful and handled their guns properly. It is really nice to show the responsible side of gun users."

Though the team's season is done, FASTT is hoping to participate in activities this fall with their host Pheasants Forever Chapter.

Weather permitting, they are also hoping to get an earlier start to next season, allowing them to potentially compete in their state tournament earlier and have some kids go to the National Tournament in Sparta, Ill.