Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Championship Hits Its Mark

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Arkansas youth shooting sports championship hits its markLONOKE – Young shooters from across the state set their sights on Lonoke Saturday for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Shooting Sports Program State Championship.

Thirty-two teams arrived at the Remington Gun Club Saturday morning after qualifying for the state championship through regional competitions held in May. Two shooting divisions were represented – Junior (Grades 6-8) and Senior (Grades 9-12).

Through four grueling rounds of single-elimination shooting, six teams emerged as the top guns of the competition. 

Junior Division

        First Place – Harrisburg Hornets AA
        Second Place – Fort Smith Pajaro Gallamore Group
        Third Place – Green Forest Young Guns

Senior Division

        First Place – Huntsville High School Nailgunners
        Second Place – Stuttgart Dead Eye Shooters
        Third Place – Greenbrier High School Squad One

This was the second year Huntsville High School took top honors in the senior division, hitting 238 out of 250 clays during the championship round. Head Coach Randy Riley said he was proud of his team winning the state championship again because they had worked really hard all year to make it happen.

Teams not only competed for bragging rights, but the winners also received many prizes and generous scholarships to be split among team members.

This is only the second year of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s shooting sports program, but it has already grown to be the largest of its kind in the country. In its first year, the state championship hosted more than 900 shooters. That number has swelled to more than 2,400 participants in one year.

AGFC Shooting Sports Coordinator Chuck Woodson said the program went very smoothly, especially considering that it tripled in size. 

Any person in grades 6-12 is eligible to join an AYSSP shooting team with no restriction on size, gender or physical ability. The goal of the program is to introduce children to firearms safety and shooting sports in an entertaining format.

 “We’d love it if every child participating ended up a new hunter,” said Woodson, “But we really want to show them how much is available for them in the great outdoors.”

 “Fewer and fewer kids have the opportunity to learn about hunting and the outdoors,” added AGFC Vice Chairman Freddie Black. “This program reaches kids who wouldn’t normally participate in sports and gives them a chance to have fun outdoors.”

The program also has become an incentive for some students to stay on track in school.

“Some of our kids were in danger of failing school and now they’re graduating because of the program,” said Steve Johnson coach of Huntsville High school Nailgunners senior division team. 

 “It is the best program that Arkansas has had in a long time,” added Mike Mack coach of Fouke Panthers Trapshooting team junior division.