The timing is right.
Dennis “Doc” Lynch, former trapshooting coach at Hamilton County High School, observed the interest in the sport growing regionally. He also noted the proximity of Rend Lake College to the Rend Lake Shooting Complex.
It didn’t take a lot of thinking to connect the dots … the college should have a trapshooting team.
“A couple of years ago I mentioned to college president Terry Wilkerson that we had a lot of high school skids shooting,” Lynch said. “I figured it was just a comment made and this summer he said I’d like to get together with you.”
Lynch and Wilkerson had that meeting in January. As a result of that meeting, Rend Lake College announced the formation of a trap team this week. The Rend Lake squad will begin competition in the fall semester.
“We established a program for high school shooters SIYSSA (Southern Illinois Youth Sporting Shooting Assocation), Lynch said. “We had 6-7 schools and might have 70 kids at a shoot. Now, SIYSSA has 318 shooters from 19 schools. It’s just grown leaps and bounds in the last 8-10 years.
“It was a perfect opportunity for some of these schools. Students mean dollars. I know everyone’s enrollments has dropped, this may be a way to bring some of those 300 kids into their schools.”
Rend Lake College sits in the heart of Southern Illinois’ trapshooting. Trico, Hamilton County, Pinckneyville, Du Quoin, Trico High School, Benton and Christopher all have trapshooting programs.
Students have until June 1 to register for the team. It will be a co-ed program.
“I’d like to see 15-20 the first year,” Lynch said. “Ideally, that’s what I’d like to see. When I started McLeansboro’s team we had eight. When I retired we had 53. In the next 3-4 years, I’d love to see Rend Lake support 40-50 shooters.”
Although nothing has been formalized, Lynch said he believes there will eventually be financial aid offered for shooters.
In terms of coaching, Lynch said anyone with basic hand-eye coordination can improve with proper instruction. And, in his experience girls can progress more quickly than boys.
“I hope we get some girls shooters,” he said. “They’re usually easier to coach than the boys. They have better eye-hand coordination. With boys, you have to break old habits. The girls don’t seem to have that. They start listening to you right from the get go.
“You will improve every shooter you bring. I’ve found in the 10 years I’ve been coaching about 85 percent of those shooters are recreational shooters. That other 10-15 percent, are your real competitors. They don’t like to lose. You can take anyone and I can improve their shooting ability, it’s just a matter of time.”
Finally, Lynch said the proximity of the Rend Lake Shooting Complex is a real plus. Other college teams have to drive an hour or more to reach their practice facilities. At Rend Lake, it’s just at the far side of campus.