When the Rugby Shooting Club team competed in the State Junior Tournament last month, Matthew Oksendahl knew the team would be competitive.
Little did he know, the Rugby team would take home first place and he would return from Bismarck with individual top honors as well.
“I knew we had a good team this year,” Oksendahl said. “I was hoping we’d win it.”
Rugby scored 453 out of a possible 500 targets, edging out runner-up Minot, which hit 450 targets.
Rugby’s Reid Mundahl, Kaden Jaeger and brothers Austin and Bryer Erickson of Grahm’s Island joined Oksendahl on the team, which is made up of the top five scorers from the 2013 league.
The league runs from June to August with each shooter competing in 12 weeks.
Oksendahl led the way, nailing 97 of 100 targets to earn the individual title.
“That actually surprised me,” he said. “I didn’t expect to shoot a 97. I expected like a 94 or something.”
Oksendahl had two perfect rounds of 25, and Jaeger, who finished with 92 total points, had one perfect round.
Austin Erickson added a 90, Mundahl fired an 89 and Bryer Erickson totaled 85.
The team has got to know each other over the years of shooting in league.
“Reid and Kaden, I knew them from Rugby,” Oksendahl said. “The Ericksons, they’ve always shot at the Rugby Gun Club. I kind of met them through the club and have always shot together and we’ve all improved over the years.”
To earn the title, it not only took a championship effort from Oksendahl, but a personal best from Jaeger.
“I shot the best I’ve ever done,” he said.
For Oksendahl, shooting was a family tradition, as his older brothers Brandon and Andrew were also successful.
Both were part of the Rugby team in 2009, which won a fourth consecutive junior title.
Jaeger started shooting when his family lived in Carrington, when he and his dad were two of only three shooters from the town.
“He asked us if we wanted to start shooting trap,” Jaeger said. “We were the only people that shot it there.”
Both Oksendahl and Jaeger said they enjoy hunting and the shooting club has made them more accurate when they pull the trigger on waterfowl in the area.
The team should all be intact next year looking for a repeat championship.
“Hopefully,” Oksendahl said. “We have one more year (together).”
The shotgun shells for the Rugby Youth Team were provided by their sponsors Rugby Homes and Rugby Welding.