May 1, 2019
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
JACKSONVILLE – If the first weekend is any indication, the race to be this year’s best senior high team in the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program will be a wide-open affair. In the large South Regional, staged on Saturday, the top six teams were separated by five total trap target hits, with the White Hall Bulldogs’ Five Dog Night squad easing to the regional championship with 230 total clays.
The total put Five Dog Night one clay ahead of runner-up Crossett Eagle Eyes No. 1, who, in turn, was one target ahead of third-place finisher Backwoods Senior 1, part of the Backwoods Trap Shooters contingent.
And although the next three teams – MVSA’s Angry Birds (226, fourth), Magnolia Panthers 1 (226, fifth) and Scrapper Team 1 from Nashville (225, sixth) – didn’t collect any hardware on Saturday at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex, they get to hone their skills for a month as they move on along with all the teams finishing in the Top 16 to the AYSSP Senior Division State Finals, slated for June 1.
The attention turns this week to the East Regional, where junior teams compete at the complex on Friday, May 3, starting at 8:30 a.m., and seniors take the stage Saturday, May 4, also starting at 8:30 a.m. The North Region, which contains senior defending state champion Bald Knob, will be decided in both divisions May 10-11, and the West will conclude regional tournaments here on May 17-18.
The senior teams shoot at 50 targets per shooter, with most teams fielding 5-person shooting teams, while the juniors take aim at 25 targets during regional play. In the South’s junior division, held last Friday, Ashdown Shooting Sports Squad 1 was paced by two perfect shooters, Drake Abney and Hunter Mize, and with 107 total points it conquered the field in another close contest. Defending junior state champion Nashville saw its Scrapper Squad 1 win a card-off for second place at 106, with third place going to Lafayette County Trap Masters Team 1.
Megan Bond of Magnolia Trap Team’s Cubs Red joined Abney and Mize with a perfect score of 25 on Friday, and the trio will advance to the Junior Champion of Champions shoot-off on May 31. Megan’s teammates qualified for the May 31 State Finals as well. As in the senior division, the top 16 teams from each regional advance to the State Finals, where teams are pitted against each other in a 64-team bracket and 25-target-per-shooter matches. Six victories in one day are needed to win a state title.
One senior shooter qualified Saturday for the Champion of Champions with a perfect 50 targets: Braden Fritts from Nashville Scrapper Team 1. Three senior shooters came achingly close with one miss each. And, while Tyler Caple and Michael Kalkbrenner were two shots off perfection, their solid day is what helped Five Dog Night to the regional crown. Buck Horton hit 47 of 50 shots, while Garrett Green was 46-for-50. Treyton Carter rounded out the balanced winning White Hall effort with 41 clays hit.
In juniors, Ashdown’s Jared Day backed up his perfect-shooting teammates with 23 of 25 as they eked by to a regional title.
To view results of last week’s regional, or two follow the results as they come in each weekend, visit https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp/. For more information on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s youth shooting sports program, visit www.agfc.com/ayssp. Photos from the event may be found on the AGFC’s Facebook page.
The tournaments are open for viewing by the public. Food and retail vendors are onsite, as well as fishing and archery stations for the youths. The pond onsite is stocked by the AGFC’s Family and Community Fishing Program; a fishing license is required to fish the pond for anyone 16 years and older.