Steel Shooters of Traer continues to hit the mark
GMG’s Vavroch one of fastest shooters in the state
Some of the fastest student-athlete shooters in the state of Iowa belong to the Steel Shooters of Traer, an Iowa Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) started roughly eight years ago by coach Pete Holden, the mayor of Traer.
“What we really started [the team] for was to teach gun safety,” Holden, a Veteran and competitive shooter himself for more than 55 years, said this past Sunday afternoon as he worked with his athletes during the team’s weekly practice held at Greg Stewart’s farm north of Traer.
Seven athletes from grade school to high school comprise Holden’s team this year including rising North Tama junior Alexander Meggers, rising GMG junior Sydney Vavroch, rising Dike-New Hartford sophomore Kiersten Christiansen, rising North Tama 8th grader Anthony Dudys and his brother rising 5th grader William Dudys, rising West Marshall 7th grader Gwen Wical, and rising Dike-New Hartford 7th grader Gavin Hines.
The speed shooting program – overseen by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources which acts as the state advisor – is a “team-based youth development program that uses pistols, rifles, and steel targets to instill life skills such as discipline, safety, teamwork, ethics, mental focus, self-discipline, and self-confidence in Iowa’s youth.”
Many but not all of the Traer team’s athletes are also hunters including Wical of Marshalltown who is in her second year with the team.
“I’d never shot like this,” Wical admitted when asked how she got involved. “But I’ve been a hunter since I was six years old.”
Wical learned about the Traer program through Vavroch, she said. She watched some videos, visited the range at Stewart’s farm, and was essentially hooked.
For Meggers of North Tama, his path to the team came about a bit differently.
“Alex had never shot a live gun before this,” Meggers’ mother Krystal Meggers, who helps organize the team, said of her son. “I got a lot of flack when Alex started – he was 10 [years old].”
Meggers first joined Holden’s Traer air pistol team before moving to the SASP team.
“I shot one time and I loved it,” Meggers said of the switch.
Both Holden and Krystal separately told the Telegraph that first and foremost the goal of SASP is to teach important skills including proper gun safety and handling, as well as an appreciation for the power of the weapon.
Through Holden’s coaching, the small team that makes up Steel Shooters of Traer has been steadily building a name for itself in the state program.
At the most recent competition – the 2022 SASP Iowa Championships which took place June 4 and 5 at the Olofson Shooting Range, near Polk City – Traer’s team took nine Top 10 individual finishes including Rimfire Pistol: Vavroch, second, Meggers, eighth, and Christiansen, 10th; Iron Rifle: Vavroch, first, Meggers, second, and Wical, fourth; Optics Rifle: Vavroch, first, and Wical, sixth; Pistol Caliber Carbine: Vavroch, first.
Vavroch also won the Ladies High Over All for rifle with a time of 34.48 seconds.
In addition to competing individually to shoot a series of five different targets in four stages for a timed score, athletes also compete in squads of four.
The Steel Shooters of Traer Iron Rifle squad took first place, while the team’s Optic Rifle and Pistol squads took second place.
Next up for the team is the 2022 SASP National Championships which is set for July 9-16 in Marengo, Ohio at the Cardinal Shooting Center, a facility jointly managed by the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources and Ohio Division of Wildlife. Traer’s athletes are scheduled to compete on July 15.
Steel Shooters of Traer is currently recruiting new student-athletes for the team. Students can be from any school district, age 8 through high school. No equipment or experience is required. For more information contact Krystal Meggers at 319-939-3214 or coach Holden at 319-415-5044.
For more information on Iowa’s Scholastic Action Shooting Program, contact Chris Van Gorp, at 515-313-8048 or email@example.com.