Right on target: BCLUW alum Wolken excelling with Hawkeye trapshooting team

Ross Wolken (center, holding trophy), a Conrad native and BCLUW graduate, travelled with the Hawkeye Community College sports shooting team to the national tournament in Marengo, Ohio, last October, where they took second place overall in their division. The Redtails are coached by Troy Emley, also of Conrad. (Photo courtesy of Troy Emley) 

Legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra is widely known for his claim that “Baseball is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical.” The quote can also be applied to a sport Berra himself probably never participated in but is rapidly gaining popularity around the United States: trapshooting. And as it turns out, a Grundy County native and BCLUW alum who’s currently at Hawkeye Community College is one of the best shooters out there.


“Anyone can go out and shoot a gun. You can shoot targets and have a lot of fun, but trapshooting in a competitive state is an extremely mental sport—which it doesn’t get very much credit for being,” said Ross Wolken, a sophomore on the Redtails shooting team. “When you get down to it, and you’re, say, 75 straight into 100 straight, there’s that voice in the back of your head that’s just screaming at you ‘You’re not going to make it’ or ‘You’re going to miss the next one,’ it’s just a lot of mental pressure.”


Wolken got his start in trapshooting with the Central Iowa Straight Shooters, a group comprised of high schoolers from BCLUW, Grundy Center, West Marshall, East Marshall and Marshalltown and founded by current Hawkeye coach (and fellow Conrad resident) Troy Emley. It didn’t take him long to notice a special talent.


“It helps tremendously. You get somebody in the newspaper. You get somebody that has a passion for it, and they’re going to talk to somebody else about it. Success breeds success,” Emley said. “And as a coach, iron sharpens iron.” 


The sport itself requires pinpoint concentration. The best shooters are known to hit 100, 150 and even 200 targets in a row, and Wolken managed a 99 out of 100 set as a high school student. Emley compares it to music: if you miss one note, it’s unlikely many people will notice, but when one becomes five or 10, it can throw the whole show off kilter. 


Editor's note: an earlier version of this story (and the print version) incorrectly identified Ross Wolken as his brother Tanner. The Grundy Register sincerely apologizes for the error. 


Read the full story in this week's Grundy Register. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here.