With so many events being held ‘virtually’ these days due to precautions focused on the spread of the coronavirus, the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program and its coordinator, Jimmy Self, recently received good news: Live tournaments have taken back.
âYeah, we’re going to have a season,â said Self, who runs the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission trap shooting program out of the AGFC’s Jacksonville office. âWe don’t know a lot of details, what will be allowed with the warrants and whatever moves. We’ll just see how it goes. We have more than a month and a half before we start the regional ones. We have a plan, we just hope things will continue to ease. “
The regional tournaments for the four state quadrants and the state tournament will be held at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Shooting Sports Complex at 2800 Graham Road in Jacksonville.
The setup for sport shooting, Self says, easily matches social distancing. Shooters are at least 9 feet apart from their firing stations and may shoot without wearing their masks. The plan will be to be masked on the way to and after leaving the shooting stations, if current mask protocols are still in effect for AYSSP tournaments.
The still unresolved question is whether fans will be able to attend – whether the protocols will allow one parent, both parents, another family, and fans. Self says the shooting stations are 50-75 feet from spectator areas; in a âregularâ year; the regional ones held on five consecutive Fridays and Saturdays at the end of the school year have attracted hundreds of people every day with the competitors, and various vendors have set up shop in the complex. Some programs have long been known for the tailgate atmosphere of their parents and supporters in the parking lot. It has been quite a spectacle, a spectacle that was completely missed last spring when the AYSSP was canceled along with so many other school-related events due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
And that’s always where the âwait and seeâ for the Self is, he said. But the AYSSP regional championships for four state regions and the state championship round, he said, were all held in Jacksonville. The program has already distributed this spring’s supplies to the various teams; all competing schools had a deadline of March 1 to submit regional entry forms.
âEveryone in the program already knows what’s going on,â he said.
âThe Arkansas Department of Health gave us a permit over a month ago. Some members of our senior administration (AGFC) told us about a week ago that they had approved. So, we are ready to go. My biggest thing is that we have to follow the guidelines set by the Department of Health and the guidelines of the governor. But we’re going to host an in-person tournament for four regional and one state in Jacksonville. “
In addition, the AYSSP and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation (which helped fund the Jacksonville line) are hosting a sport shooting tournament on Saturday, April 10. The eighth annual tournament, a fundraising event for AYSSP and run by the Homebuilders Association of Greater Little Rock, will be a first-come, first-serve event for youth teams starting at 9 a.m., and includes a shooting dam for adults this afternoon. The Foundation raises funds through sponsorships to cover a number of teams, Self said; once this number of sponsored teams is exceeded, other teams can compete for $ 250 per team.
The big trap launcher champion of the April 10 event will win an AGFC lifetime hunting and fishing license. The cash prize, to be used towards purchasing ammo for the team, will be awarded to the top three teams in increments of $ 700, $ 500 and $ 300. All AYSSP teams are eligible.
To donate to sponsorship of event teams, or for more information, email the Foundation’s Tyler Lawrence at [email protected] Teams wishing to compete should email Self at [email protected] or call the Foundation at 501-223-6468.
A portion of the money raised goes towards providing an annual scholarship of $ 1,250 to the Champion of Champions shooter each year. Senior Division shooters who hit all 50 targets in their Regional Shooting Tournament qualify for a play-off in the State Tournament, with the last shot declared the Champion of Champions.
All other young shooters or programs wishing to participate in AYSSP are encouraged to register for the next school year. Registration for the spring tournament will open in January.
âWe want to create new teams and more kids involved for next year,â Self said. âIf your school or community doesn’t have a shooting team, we would like to start one in your area. Â»Contact us by calling 501-259-4870, visit the website at www.agfc.com/ayssp or by email to [email protected]