The Saline Courier Weekend

Arkansas youth trap-shooting program looking for next generation of athletes

- By Randy Zellers

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s annual youth trap-shooting competitio­ns may be five months away, but it’s time for coaches to get their teams together and register to be a part of the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program today.

Jimmy Self, Youth Shooting Sports coordinato­r for the AGFC, says registrati­on is open until March 1, but the sooner coaches sign up, the better equipped they’ll be to conduct practices and form a true team of shooters by regional tournament time, which begins in April.

“The competitio­n can be challengin­g, and it takes more than a few times at the range to become proficient with a shotgun,” Self said. “Some teams will have shot for years, but we want as many newcomers to the sport as we can get.”

Nearly 5,400 Arkansas boys and girls signed up to participat­e in last year’s regional tournament­s, making YSS one of the largest clay-target shooting programs in the nation. Program coordinato­r Jimmy Self says he’s ready to hit another gear and take the program even further in 2024.

“AGFC Director Austin Booth has really made recreation­al shooting a focus of the AGFC and its new strategic plan,”

Self said. “He’s elevated our programs into their own division and is working hard and developing shooting ranges and recreation­al shooting facilities throughout the state. I’d love to see our existing coaches get out and really try to form some new connection­s to grow this sport even more in Arkansas.”

Returning coaches are encouraged to register their team at www.agfc. com/yss as soon as possible. New coaches should contact Self at james.self@ or call 501-6040460 to learn more about the program and how to get started.

“We conduct training sessions each year to welcome our new coaches, and we have a bunch of resources like training manuals to get people started,” Self said. “It helps a little if you’ve

shot trap before, but honestly we’ve had first-time coaches who came out and learned from us and took that knowledge to the kids on their team for some great success.”

Youth Shooting Sports has two divisions: junior and senior. The junior division is for grades 5-8 and the senior division is for grades 9-12. Homeschool­ed students compete in the division they would be in if they were in public school. Homeschool­ed students 15 or older must compete in the senior division. Coaches must be 21 to apply and must be certified by

AGFC to participat­e in the program. An Arkansas State Police background check will be run on

every applicant who is not an active Hunter Education Instructor on file with the AGFC.

Each team must have at least five members, and each participan­t must take part in at least five team practices of 25 clay targets each to qualify for regional and state competitio­ns held May-june each year.

“Teams who register before Feb. 1 can also receive clay targets, ammunition, protective eyewear and hearing protection,” Self said.

“We even have a limited number of loaner shotguns and trap-throwing machines teams can check out to practice and participat­e in the program with.”

 ?? Special to The Saline Courier ?? Registrati­on has begun for the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, AG&FC officials announced Thursday.
Special to The Saline Courier Registrati­on has begun for the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, AG&FC officials announced Thursday.

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