Northland Community & Technical College (NCTC) announces a new varsity sport for the 2018-2019 academic year: Clay Target (also referred to as trap shooting). The Northland Pioneers, along with 10 other participating Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) schools, will compete in a six-week season, culminating with a championship competition held in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Registration is open now through Friday, Aug. 31, for Northland students enrolled in at least six academic credits who have completed the required hunter gun safety course. Fees include a $35 registration fee paid through USAHSCTL, as well as a $300 activity fee paid through NCTC. Athletes will be required to provide their own shotgun. The Pioneer team will consist of both male and female student-athletes and coached by Rod Lahren, who is beginning his 29th year as Northland’s Architectural Technology instructor. “Right now we have three girls already signed up,” Lahren said, “but I’m expecting to see 15-20 sign up. To field a team, we need a minimum of five shooters. This Friday, Aug. 24, I’ll be recruiting interested athletes in the main lobby of the Thief River Falls campus from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.” The league is sanctioned by the MCAC in partnership with the USA High School Clay Target League (USAHSCTL), who will organize the competitions. Unlike other varsity sports, competitions will take place virtually, with participating schools entering scores online at their home shooting ranges. The only face-to-face competition will be the league championship held at the end of the season. “We go out to the Trap Club in Thief River Falls,” Lahren explained, “and each athlete will shoot twice through five stations, for a total of 50 rounds… a typical trap shoot session. I enter their scores and we see how we stack up against the competition once their scores are entered.” The new varsity offering will provide a broader opportunity for both traditional and nontraditional student-athletes at Northland. Clay Target is fully Title IX compliant with both male and female athletes competing on the same team. It’s also an adaptive sport, which allows students with physical disabilities to participate. With the recent rise in popularity among area high schools, Lahren expects the sport to grow quickly. “We don’t need world champion shooters,” Lahren said. “We’re interested in students looking to learn the sport, stressing safety, fun, and marksmanship, I want new shooters to learn the sport and enjoy it and build the team as we go. I think once all the high schools get wind of it, it’s going to be huge because those young kids just love the sport. Honestly, I think we’ll be overwhelmed next year because it’s so popular… those high school students are going to really be interested in participating at the collegiate level.” Students interested in joining the team should contact coach Lahren. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 218-686-9420 or stop by the registration booth Friday, Aug. 24, at the Thief River Falls campus. Registration closes on Friday, Aug. 31. For more information on Northland Athletics, follow the Pioneers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Select home games are streamed live online at nctctv.com.