Joe Earl was hoping to improve on his 232nd place finish last year at the USA High School Clay Target League National Tournament in Michigan. With a perfect 100/100 round on the second day, he finished 12th out of nearly 2,000 competitors. The incoming Owatonna High School junior is an H & R Block Stat Sheet Stuffer for his great finish.

Earl said, "When I shot my perfect 100 I was excited and especially placing 12th out of 1,800 kids that's really good." He added, "When I shot my 50 straight, I really didn't think much because I've shot 50 straight. But when I got 75 straight, then I was like, oh. This could actually happen. One thing the coaches always say is don't think about it, just shoot. And I just kept thinking that to myself as I was shooting. Once I hit that last bird (target) I wanted to jump for joy."

Earl shot 96/100 on the opening day of the event this past weekend. His perfect second day put his overall score at 196. Woodrow Glazer of New Prague won the national title for the second straight year with a perfect 200/200. Another Minnesotan, Cole Girtz of Park Rapids, finished 11th with 197. Joe's older brother Thomas also competed in Michigan but didn't make it to the second day.

Both Joe Earl and his OHS coach Mike Kingland said practice made the difference in his big jump up the leader board of the national tournament. Earl said, "I practiced a lot. Every time the gun club was open, I was out there shooting. Fifty rounds at a time, sometimes 100. I put in my time practicing."

Kingland said, "The easiest thing to say about him is he is a quiet competitor. He's very intense when he's shooting. He just goes about his business. He practices a lot. I know a couple of weeks ago he shot his first 100-straight down at the gun club, on his own. He's one of those guys that just keeps getting better and better. He's refining his skills, really dialing things in. To see him do this well is not surprising."

Earl just missed qualifying for the Minnesota State High School League clay target individual tournament this past spring. Both he and his brother were part of Owatonna's state meet qualifying team in 2018. Joe still has two years left with the high school team and says, "Get the word out there that the clay target team is going to have more kids join even though this year we had 87. It's a pretty fun sport. Honestly to just have fun with your teammates. Just keep shooting."

Kingland said the Huskies won't lose many seniors off this past spring's team. OHS finished second in their conference and compete in the biggest class in the state. He said many shooters are taking part in a summer league. Some Owatonna shooters will compete with Medford or NRHEG in the fall league.

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