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Youth from grades 1-12 compete in first statewide Marksmanship Challenge

BY Randy Zellers

ON 09-25-2019


Sept. 25, 2019

Randy Zellers

Assistant Chief of Communications

FORT SMITH — More than 200 young outdoors enthusiasts gathered at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature centers and education centers throughout the state last Saturday to participate in the first-ever statewide Marksmanship Challenge. When the last arrow was pulled Samuel Sanders at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center took top honors in the oldest age group, the tenth- through 12th-grade division.

Other winners include Easton Carter at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center (Grades 1-3); Ty Branton at JHARVNC (Grades 4-6), and Skyler Burch at Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center and Cora Regan at JHARVNC (tie for Grades 7-9).

Participants competed in target archery, 3D archery, BB gun marksmanship, slingshot and target casting with a rod and reel. The combined score of all five events was used to determine the winner of each category. The top three shooters in each division at each nature and education center received a medal. Winners of the top marksman awards in each age class also will receive a trophy.

“This wasn’t just a one-time event,” said AGFC Assistant Chief Eric Maynard. “We’ve held courses all summer at every center to teach youths the skills used in this challenge. The final event was a chance for the participants to celebrate what they’ve learned.”

The Marksmanship Challenge has taken place at the Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center for years, and similar events were held at other nature centers, but this year marks the first time that all nature centers and education centers coordinated their marksmanship days to give participants a truely statewide competition. Maynard says many of the centers took on the challenge internally, working even harder to increase the skill level of their participants so they could claim top billing as well as the students.

“We’re already looking forward to our next statewide event,” Maynard said. “With four nature centers, four education centers and the newest center being built in Northwest Arkansas, we are excited to increase opportunities for people to get outdoors and learn, no matter where they are in The Natural State.”

Visit to find out what’s going on at an AGFC nature or education center near you. 

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