May 31, 2023
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
JACKSONVILLE — What started out in April as a competition drawing nearly 5,400 young trap shooters ranging from fifth grade to seniors in high school has been whittled down to about 640 boys and girls who will compete this weekend (June 2-3) to be the best youth shooters in Arkansas.
Following four weeks of regionals, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Youth Shooting Sports program has reached the state championship stage in both the junior and senior divisions, and they’ll shoot at clay pigeons Friday and Saturday until team and individual winners are determined.
Both Friday’s junior division and Saturday’s senior tournament – 64 teams in each, competing in single-elimination matches like a NCAA basketball tournament bracket, with top seeds playing No. 16 seeds, second seeds playing No. 15 seeds and so on – will start at 9 a.m. at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex at 2800 Graham Road. There is no charge to watch the action. Concessions are available, and archery and fishing areas will be set up east of the shooting stands for everyone to enjoy.
After state championships are determined on both days, individual shooters who hit all targets during regional competition at the complex over the past month will compete — one shot at a time, one miss means elimination — until a single shooter in each division is left standing as Champion of Champions.
Konnor Fulbright of the Batesville Pioneer Shooting Buddies, Seth Smith from Corning’s Senior Squad 1 and Reed Proctor from Foreman’s Senior A team were the three shooters to hit all 50 shots during regional senior division shooting. Manny Waites from Rose Bud’s Sharpshooters Full Strut, Addison Price of the Cross County Thunderbirds and Caney White of the Nashville Scrapper Jr. Orange squad were a perfect 25-for-25 in the junior division regionals to make the Champion of Champions shoot-off.
The seniors in the shoot-off will be competing for $2,500 in college or trade school scholarship money. The scholarship is funded by an endowment set up by Dr. Doyne and Nancy Williams, trap-shooters themselves and longtime promoters of youth shooting sports in Arkansas.
Five-person teams in the senior state tournament bracket will also be seeking not only trophies, but scholarship money for the top finishing teams. First-place finisher will receive $7,500, $5,000 to the runner-up and $2,500 for third place. Money for those scholarships comes from the Youth Shooting Sports program.
Bergman’s Dolly Parton Fan Club (North), Corning Senior Squad 1 (East), Ashdown Senior 1 (South) and Shiloh Christian School’s Thunderbirds (West) were senior regional winners over the past month. Ashdown’s squad was the most accurate of all the winners, hitting 239 of 250 attempts and beating rival Foreman by one clay for its title. Foreman and East winner Corning come into the state having both hit 238 clays out of 250. Corning, whose team includes members from the 2021 state junior champion, won its regional by one clay over the Rocket Tight Wad team from Little Rock Catholic. The East region was the tightest in terms of high accuracy at the top, with eight out of 16 squads hitting 230 or more clays. However, varying weather conditions seen on the different weekends for regionals could cause the disparity in overall scores.
Junior regional teams had 25 shots total per individual (125 maximum per team) during the run-up to state. Rose Bud Sharpshooters Full Strut was the top junior regional team, hitting 116 out of 125 targets to win the North regional. Cross County Thunderbirds won a card-off after tying Corning Junior Squad 2 at 113 to win the East; Ashdown Junior 1 (111 clays) rolled in the South; and Berryville Shooting Sports’ Mators and Tators (100 clays) took the West regional. Interestingly, Corning’s shooting sports program placed three teams in the top five of the East regional.
The purpose of the Youth Shooting Sports program, led by the AGFC’s Jimmy Self, is to bring the joy of outdoors and the rewards of safely learning to shoot to young Arkansans.
The junior division includes grades 5-8. Seniors include grades 9-12. Home schooled students 15 or older compete in the senior division. Any type of shotgun action is allowed as long as the bore is 12 or 20 gauge. Trap machines throw targets at unknown angles.
Senior State Championship Qualifiers (By region, seeding and score)
NORTH: Bergman Dolly Parton Fan Club, 234; Bald Knob Bulldogs Trapshooting Team Blue, 233; South Side FAA Blue, 231; BK Bulldogs Trapshooting Team White, 227; Searcy Shooting Sports Red, 225; Cave City Sharpshooters Duck Commanders, 224; Batesville Pioneer Trap Team Shooting Buddies, 223; Mountain Home Bombers Bomb Squad, 223; Highland Trap Shooters 1, 223; Pioneer Trap Team Holler Boys, 222; Beebe Shooting Sports Red, 222; Beebe Shooting Sports Black, 220; Bigelow 5, 218; Rose Bud Sharpshooters Royal Flush, 218; Clinton Shooting Sports Hot Shots, 217; Rose Bud Sharpshooters Straight Flush, 215.
WEST: Shiloh Christian School Thunderbirds, 222; Berryville Shooting Sports Dust Bunnies, 222; Alma Youth Trap Club Long Shots, 216; Lamar Trap Team Nothing But Dust, 213; Greenwood Bulldogs Trap Happy, 212; West Fork Shotgun Club 1, 209; Shiloh Christian Blue Angels, 209; Russellville Shooter Team Desperados, 208; Alma Trap Club Boomsticks, 206; Shiloh Christian Jolly Rogers, 204; God’s Great Outdoors (Farmington) 1, 204; Lamar Trap Team Clay Slayers, 203; Huntsville Trap Team 1st Squad, 22; Dover Clay Bird Crushers, 201; Cossatot River FFA 201; Greenwood Bulldogs Powder Monkeys 199.
SOUTH: Ashdown Trap Team 1, 239; Foreman Trap Team A, 238; Mountain Valley Sportsman’s Association (Lonsdale) Angry Birds Eagles, 234; Sheridan Trap Team Blue, 232; Camden Fairview Red, 227; Nashville Scrapper Trap Orange, 226; Bradley High School Trap 1, 225; Garrett Memorial Christian School Saints 1 (Hope), 224; Horatio Shooting Sports Red, 223; Texarkana Arkansas Razorback Trap Team Red, 222; Camden Fairview White, 219; Magnolia Panther Trap Team White, 218; Fouke Trap Shooting Team Claybusters, 218; Hamburg HS Trap Team 2, 217; Harmony Grove Hornets 1, 217; Backwoods Trap Shooters 1, 216.
EAST: Corning Trap Team Squad 1, 238; Catholic High Rocket Tight Wad, 237; Harrisburg Hornet Trap Team 2, 236; Jonesboro Westside Trap Team Red, 234; Five Rivers Trap 11-Point River, 233; CAC Mustang Shooting Black, 233; Cabot Panthers Red, 232; Manila Trap Team 1, 230; Jonesboro Westside Trap Team White, 229; Brookland Bearcats 6, 227; Jonesboro Trap Team UnCoachables 11, 226; Cabot Panthers Black, 225; Jacksonville Titans Trap Team Wigeons, 223; Newport Gunning Greyhounds Squad 3, 222; Greene County Tech Eagles 4-H Ice, 221; Cabot Panthers White, 217.
Junior State Championship Qualifiers (By region, seeding and score)
NORTH: Rose Bud Sharpshooters Full Strut, 116; Bald Knob Bulldogs Trapshooting Team Blue, 112; Pioneer Trap Team Shooting Buddies, 110; Southside Batesville 1, 110; BK Bulldogs Trapshooting White, 109; Bergman 3, 107; Mount Vernon-Enola Claybusters 1, 107; Cave City Schools Cavemen 1, 102; South Side FFA Blue, 101; Melbourne Bearkatz 2, 101; Faulkner County 4-H Shooting Sports Straight Off the Couch, 100; Cave City Sharpshooters Clay Crushers, 100; Highland Trapshooters 1, 100; Pioneer Trap Team Holler Boys, 98; Southside Batesville 2, 97; White County Central Shooting Sports Squad 1, 97.
WEST: Berryville Shooting Sports Mators and Tators, 100; Greenwood Bulldogs Shell Shocked, 97; Shiloh Christian School Boomers, 92; Eureka Springs Shooting Sports 1st Squad, 87; Booneville Bearcats Purple, 87; Alma Youth Trap Club Pull My Finger, 87; Cossatot River FFA 1, 85; Jasper Shooting Sports Team 1, 83; Berryville Shooting Sports Fuzzy Monkeys, 82; God’s Great Outdoors Trap Team 2 (Farmington), 81; County Line Trap Team 1, 80; Johnson County Westside Trap Team 1, 80; Pottsville Apache Trap 1, 79; God’s Great Outdoors Trap Team 1 (Famington), 79; Accuracy In Motion 1, 77; Greenwood Bulldogs Blazing Barrels, 76.
SOUTH: Ashdown Trap Team 1, 111; Nashville Scrapper Trap Orange, 108; White Hall Trap One Dog Night, 103; Sheridan Trap Team Blue, 103; Horatio Shooting Sports Red, 101; Ashdown Trap Team 2, 100; Camden Fairview Red, 100; Garrett Memorial Christian School Saints 1 (Hope), 99; South Pike County Rattle Traps D Squad, 99; Bradley HS Trap Team 1, 99; Foreman Trap Team 1, 98; Magnolia Panther Trap Team Grey, 98; Magnolia Panther Trap Team Red, 97; Nashville Scrapper Trap Black, 97; BackWoods Trap Shooters 1, 96; Bradley HS Trap Team 2, 96.
EAST: Cross County Thunderbirds 113, Corning Trap Team Squad 2, 113; Cabot Panthers Red, 109; Corning Trap Team Squad 1, 108; Corning Trap Team Squad 3, 102; Jonesboro Trap team Cole’s Crushers, 100; Northeast Arkansas Christian Home Educators (Neache) Eagles 1, 100; Gunning Greyhounds Squad 4, 99; Jonesboro Westside Trap Team Red, 98; Lonoke Jackrabbits 1, 97; Jonesboro Westside Trap Team White, 97; Brookland Bearcats 3, 96; Pulaski Academy Blue, 92; Cabot Panthers White, 91; Des Arc Eagles Smokin’ Guns 90; Harrisburg Hornet Trap Team Squad 1, 90.
(Note: All ties were broken by a card-off based on comparing individual shooters’ results.)
Clay Pigeon in the Air
After four weekends of regional competition, the top 64 teams in the state in each age division will compete for the AGFC Youth Shooting Sports State Championship June 2-3.
Wet, rainy conditions plagued many of the regional events, but the forecast looks good for the upcoming championship shoot.
The final round of the state championship will feature reactive clay targets the add a little flair to the event.