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— School Board members on Monday night gave their nod of approval for the district to further investigate the feasibility of adding shooting sports to the school’s activity offerings.

The Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program is sponsored by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said Brae Harper, the school’s activities director, and a number of students have expressed interest in having the program here in Gentry.

Huntsville School District has had a shooting team for three or four years now, Harper said. Berryville just signed up for the program, and about 300 students signed up to participate.

“This is the hottest thing going in the state and in the nation - that and archery,” Harper said.

The school board raised questions about cost and safety.

The cost to the school is minimal, Harper said. It would only involve transportation costs to the competitions and practices. Students would use their own shotguns, and a safe method of storing and transporting the guns could be used.

An off-campus gun safe and transporting the shotguns broken down and in a separate vehicle from the bus were mentioned. A local trap range in the Cherokee City area was suggested as a good place for practice and a local competition.

The question of liability was answered by school district superintendent Dr. Randy Barrett, who said an insurance rider could be purchased by the school to cover the sport for about $1,000.

AYSSP seeks to instill a love of the outdoors and the rewards of safe shooting to young Arkansans, the AGFC Web site says.

Teams are made up of at least five members and must practice at least six times. A grant will provide a basic team-support package which includes targets, ammunition, shell pouches, protective glasses and ear protection.

Teams compete on the local and regional level to qualify to go to the state championship competition in Stuttgart.

According to the AGFC Web site, “Any type of shotgun action is allowed, as long as the bore is 12 or 20 gauge, release triggers are not allowed. Trap machines that throw targets at unknown angles are used. The state coordinator may specify models of trap machines for AYSSP events. All shooters and coaches must wear appropriate eye and ear protection.

“Only registered AYSSP participants are allowed to compete and practice. All teams must register by March 1. Only coaches may register teams.

“The AYSSP has two divisions: junior and senior. The junior division is for grades 6-8 and the senior division is for grades 9-12. Home-schooled students compete in the division they would be in if they were in public school.Home-schooled students 15 or older must compete in the senior division.

“Trap shooting is the sanctioned sport of the AYSSP. The season begins Feb. 1 and ends July 31.”

The question was brought to the school board before inquiring of students to see if they were interested. With the tentative approval of the board, the schools will further explore the possibility of student participation in the AYSSP.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short or how athletic you are,” Barrett said. “This opens up the door to a group of kids who may not otherwise be able to participate in a sport,” he said, adding that the school is seeking to provide activities for all its students.

News, Pages 1 on 10/21/2009

Print Headline: Schools could add shooting program

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