June 2, 2021
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
JACKSONVILLE – Harrisburg’s Trap Team, which was four shots from perfection during its winning performance in the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program’s East Region Senior Tournament on May 1, will go into the AYSSP’s State Championship this Saturday as one of four top seeds and, based on that May 1 showing, the heavy favorite to win the championship.
But one regional performance isn’t always indicative of what can happen under the pressure of six head-to-head matches against other good trap-shooting teams, and Harrisburg will see plenty of competition before it can claim the first-place trophy. The seniors, matched up for tournament bracket, one-and-done shootoffs, have 64 teams vying for a title, just as the AYSSP Junior State Tournament will determine its champion with a 64-team bracket Friday at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex.
Attendance is welcome and free. Vendors and information booths, including an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stand for selling fishing and hunting licenses and distributing brochures, will be on-site as the AYSSP tournaments move into a more open atmosphere. Last year’s tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and four weeks of regionals this spring were held under some COVID-19 protocols that mainly prohibited gathering of vendors and the public in close proximity, or awarding of prizes and trophies after the competitions to limit close, large crowds.
“We’re going to open things up for this week,” Jimmy Self, the AYSSP coordinator, said. “We’ll have the Game and Fish fish tank on site, as well as the (AGFC Enforcement Division) Scales of Justice trailer. We’ll have a fishing derby at the lake on the property, and we’ll have archery stations set up. We’re going to go back to doing some of our R3 efforts, informing the public about some other Arkansas Game and Fish Commission activities going on.”
Visitors will no longer have to wear masks on-site, but people may wear them if they choose, Self said. “We’re going back to a somewhat normal activity like we had in the past.”
This Friday and Saturday, winners will be acknowledged, photographs taken, and the championship rounds as well as the Champion of Champions shootoffs for juniors and seniors will be broadcast live on the AGFC’s YouTube channel with “Arkansas Wildlife” host Trey Reid providing the clay-by-clay announcing. The final rounds will go live at about 1:30 p.m., depending on how quickly the first five rounds proceed in getting to the championship and the third-place matchups. The Champion of Champions shootoffs involve the perfect scorers from junior (25 shots) and senior (50 shots) regional tournaments. Each participant competes until missing a shot; the last person standing is the Champion of Champions.
The senior Champion of Champions will receive a $2,500 scholarship for college. The scholarship money is provided by the Dr. Doyne and Nancy Williams Scholarship Fund.
Along with trophies, the top three finishing teams in the senior tournament also will win college scholarship money distributed to seniors on those teams: $7,500 to the winning team, $5,000 to second place and $2,500 to third place.
Junior tournament action begins at 9 a.m. Friday; the seniors begin at the same time on Saturday.
Teams in both junior and senior state tourneys are seeded by their regional results for a 64-team bracket (1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15 and so forth). Joining Harrisburg (East Region, 246 targets hit) as No. 1 seeds and their scores from regional competition are Highland (North Region, 234), Minutemen Ack Ack (West Region, 232) and Nashville Scrapper Trap Team 1 (South Region, 231). But keep an eye out for the second- and third-place teams from the East Region: perennially strong Westside qualified its White team with 237 clays hit, winning a second-place tie-breaker over Jacksonville Mallards, who practice at the complex. And East fourth-place finisher Greene County 4-H Team 1 would have won two other regions with its 233 clays hit in the East Region.
Top seeds in the Juniors are: Nashville Scrapper 1 (South, 118), West Fork Shotgun Club 1 (West, 99), Bald Knob 1 (North, 110) and Corning Squad 1 (East, 110).
Champion of Champion qualifiers in the senior division are: Cole Cureton, Westside; Gilbert Palmer, Harrisburg; Jansen Jacobs, Corning; Luke Clayton, Harrisburg; Jared Day, Ashdown; Konner Shelton, De Queen; Reece Reep, Hermitage; Sidney Todd, Smackover; Booty Teter, Berryville; Christian Hill, Mountain Home, and Isaac Gregory, Highland.
Junior Champion of Champions participants will be: Carter Ewing, Nashville; Grayson Elam, Texarkana; Judd Kennemore, Ashdown; Cade Verwyvelt, Little Rock; Seth Smith, Corning; William Mahan, Harrisburg, and Bricen Carter, Cave City.
“We’re hoping to have a great weekend with a lot of great shooting teams and have some good weather,” Self said. “In the regionals, we’ve had mostly great weather and we’ve had some great scores. Everything has gone pretty well. This weekend we’re expecting to have a few college coaches out to recruit and we’ll be giving out scholarship money as well.
“And most importantly, we feel the program is so important in getting kids into the outdoors to experience The Natural State.”
Visit https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp to see all scores from the tournaments and to follow the real-time results this Friday and Saturday.