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Montana State Women’s Trap League Here to Stay

By 2023-06-08September 14th, 2023BLOG

Just like anywhere in the country, shooting sports is on the rise, and that is no different in the state of Montana. Along with the trending increase of women’s interest in the shotgun shooting sports came the introduction of a women’s trap shooting league, the Montana State Women’s Trap League (MSWTL). This is the story of how that organization came about, and where it’s going.

My Story Surrounding Shotguns

I remember about five years ago I blindly purchased a Syren XLR5 sporting semi-auto shotgun because I wanted a similar model that was close to my nearly worn-out shotgun from another company. After extended research, Syren was the decision I felt most confident in selecting. I shot the XLR5 Sporting for about a year-and-a-half and loved it. Many shooters had never even heard of the Syren brand at this time.

Xcel Range (Chris Holgrun Photo)

Then, in the spring of 2020, a new Syren dealer was introduced to Montana. I had to go check out Xcel Shooting Sports/Passionate Outlaws in Kalispell. From my experience, Xcel is a unique facility to visit. They have an amazing demo center where you can try out any shotgun before you purchase it. This is such a great opportunity for those who aren’t sure what style or model they would like to have, much like myself. I spent at least five hours at Xcel, and I left with two new additions to my collection: a Syren L4S Sporting and a Syren Elos N2 Elevate. A year later, I upgraded to my current shotgun, the Syren Tempio Trap Combo. If Passionate Outlaws is not an option for you, or you live in an entirely different part of the world, Syren has made it easy to find the full list of demo events at its website.

Montana State Women’s Trap League

The history behind the evolution of the ladies’ shotgun shooting growth is amazing. There had been chatter about growing women’s trap leagues, and then one day, the idea of a statewide league for women in Montana turned into reality. Tracy Kienitz of Passionate Outlaws – a Syren, Fabarm, and Caesar Guerini dealer in Kalispell – took the reins and ran with the idea, and the Montana State Women’s Trap League was formed. It is the very first of its kind in history.

The MSWTL’s mission is to create a community of women who support, encourage and inspire each other while participating in shooting sports. The mission is accomplished by collaborating with gun clubs across the state to build and support women’s shooting leagues. The MSWTL has women of all shooting experience levels participating – from new to seasoned ATA (Amateur Trapshooting Association) and NSCA (National Sporting Clays Association) shooters. All ages – some as young as 11 years old and up to 70+ – can be found on shotgun ranges across the state. Tracy commented there has been so much buzz and excitement surrounding this group that women’s shotgun clinics are popping up all over the country to inspire and encourage new women to join the shooting sports. In fact, this organization inspired a new women’s group in northern Illinois called the Annie Oakley Shooters of Northern Illinois, which is focused on sporting clays clinics and women-only sporting clays competition.

Helena Range (Kashia Herring photo)

The first year of the league found three clubs and 67 shooters to participate; then, the second year grew to seven clubs and 150+ shooters in Montana that participated from Great Falls, Helena, Butte, Kalispell, Havre, Libby, and Missoula. To qualify for the league, you have to shoot eight consecutive rounds (rounds consist of 25 targets). Kashia Herring, Helena’s team captain, said, “Last summer was my role as the Helena team captain for the Montana State Women’s Trap League, the first of its kind in the nation! We bonded over shooting, games and good ol’ Montana fun! I love the comradery between all the ladies, especially when we hold them at night during the summer league. I also love helping new shooters build confidence and accuracy in their skills throughout the summer.”

Harve Range (Emi Smith photo)

Over in Kalispell, at the end of the season, Tracy hosted a season-end awards ceremony, along with shoot-offs and shotgun games for all the ladies that participated in MTSWTL at the Xcel Shooting Sports range. The league awarded prizes to several classes, such as Class A, B, C, D, New Shooter, and Young Lady. And all shooters had a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Syren was excited to be a part of this event, and there were so many Syren shotguns at the season-end shoot; Tracy had MTSWTL barrel markers made so that shooters could quickly and easily identify their shotguns on the racks. Tracy explained that this idea had stemmed from her own women’s leagues where so many Syren Elevates, Syren L4S and Syren Elevate Trap Combo guns were present that, on occasion, shooters had brought home the wrong shotgun.

Syren Tempio Trap Combo

I reached out to some of the class winners from 2022, and here is what they had to say about the upcoming league:

“I am very excited for the upcoming summer women’s league. I am looking forward to seeing all the returning shooters as well as welcoming the new shooters to the sport. I want to wish everyone the very best of luck and remind everyone to have fun as that is what it is all about,” Class A winner Tressa Doughty.

“I’m super excited to participate with all the funny, strong, and talented women this year! I always look forward to the nights I get to shoot with them. They are always supportive of everyone no matter their skill!” Class C winner Brooklyn Lorenz.

Chris Holgrun photo

Montana is gearing up for its third year of the MSWTL. There are 11 clubs across Montana hosting league events, which start in June and end in August. The league is expecting more than 225 women of all ages participating this year, an increase of more than 40% compared to the previous year’s attendance. Of the eleven clubs participating, only two of those clubs had hosted women’s leagues before the inception of the MTSWTL. Among the eleven clubs, you will find anywhere from five to 70 women shooters participating in the women’s leagues.

Tracy says it is not only a girls’ night out, but also it is something moms can do with the whole family. There is even a class for mother-and-daughter duos.

Helena Range (Kashia Herring photo)

New club organizer Jeannie Ostby, from the Pondera Shooting Sport Club in Conrad, said, “Trap shooting is for everyone and even if you are very shy and introverted person, you can give this sport a try. The people behind you just melt away in your state of mind and have no idea that there is anyone else in the world other than the other four people you are shooting with; then you just want to destroy that bird/target and enjoy the smell of gun powder. It seems like we are in a mostly male sport; everyone including the other women are genuinely excited that you have joined the sport.”

If you are in any of these areas, it’s not too late to sign up. Here are the following locations and dates.

  • Logan Ladies Trap League – Logan, June 1
  • Krazy Clays, Libby Shooting Complex – Libby, June 3
  • ZooTown Lady Trap Shooters, Missoula Trap and Skeet Club – Missoula,  June 6
  • Havre Trap Club – Havre, June 5
  • Pondera Shooting Sports Club – Conrad, June 7
  • Helena Trap Club – Helena, June 7
  • Flathead Valley Clay and Target Club – Kalispell, June 14
  • Butte Trap Club – Butte, June 14
  • Babes and Barrels, Hamilton Trap Club – Hamilton, July 9
  • Xcel/Outlaw Club – Kalispell, July 19
  • Great Falls Trap and Skeet Club – Great Falls, MT July 27

I have asked a few of the shooters from the 2022 league what they look forward to most in the upcoming league. Annette Rinehart said, “Shooting league with women is a great opportunity to meet new women shooters with a variety of skill levels. It is so fun to meet first time league shooters and to see what got them interested in shooting. It is a pleasure to get tips from women who have shot, struggled and then succeeded to be top competitors. I encourage all women to try this sport, it is a lifetime event and getting to shoot, having fun and meeting the best people is what it is all about.”

Great Falls Group (Sherry Stern photo)

Sherry Stearns, an organizer from Great Falls, added, “Each year we get more and more ladies shooting, so I’m hoping this year to work on encouraging new shooters to come out and try shooting.”

As you can tell, all the ladies in the MSWTL league are ready for the 2023 season and are ready to have some fun. Check out its website, where you can see what the organization is about, be a sponsor, and see previous year’s winners, along with many photos of the clubs and the lady shooters.

Enjoying this post? Read more just like it on our Syren Savvy Blog HERE.

*This article was originally posted in our column on written by Emi Smith and edited by WON Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird.