This year’s tournaments may be months away, but Jimmy Self, shooting sports coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, is busy sorting, filing and getting things ready for another season of introducing Arkansas youth to shotgun skills and competitive trap shooting with the AGFC Youth Shooting Sports Program.
While training to become a coach has passed for the 2022 season, Self is reminding all coaches who have already participated in training to get their teams registered by Feb. 1 to be eligible for equipment checkouts, including trap machines, targets and ammunition.
“We have a limited number of loaner shotguns, trap machines and other supplies for coaches to use with their teams if they need them, but we need to get all registrations and materials in as soon as possible to ensure there are enough to go around,” Self said.
Self is hoping participation will rebound this year, as it was not uncommon to have more than 5000 participants and 900 coaches involved each year before COVID-19.
“We’ve had well over 75,000 students participate in the program in its 15 years,” Self said. “That’s students from 6th grade all the way up to high-school seniors.”
While some teams are affiliated with schools and conduct their practices outside of school hours, many are organized through 4H programs and other organizations throughout the state..
“We only require each participant to complete their Hunter Education and have five official practices before the regional tournaments begin in April,” Self said.
Teachers and mentors who did not have a chance to attend a training session last September also are encouraged to contact Self to get on the mailing list for next year’s training workshops. He may even be able to point interested participants toward existing programs to become a part of and form additional teams.
“We regularly have teams from North Little Rock, Bentonville, Conway, Cabot and other large cities, but we also have teams from some of the more rural locations in Arkansas,” Self said. “In some cases, shooting sports may be that sport that allows a student who has not found their calling in football, basketball and other traditional sports to excel.”
This year’s AYSSP tournaments and dates are as follows:
April 29 — Juniors
April 30 — Seniors
May 6 — Juniors
May 7 — Seniors
May 13 — Juniors
May 14 — Seniors
May 20 — Juniors
May 21 — Seniors
June 3 — Juniors
June 4 — Seniors