ARCADIA — Teachers from 20 public schools around the state participated Tuesday in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's first training session at the Oklahoma City Gun Club for a new scholastic shooting sports program.
Twenty pilot schools were chosen for the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program, which begins the fall.
Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the schools will each have teams of junior high and high school students to compete in trap shooting.
The program will be similar to the very popular Archery in The Schools program that the Wildlife Department started in the schools a decade ago.
“We are setting it up pretty much the same way,” said Damon Springer of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Archery is taught in two-week sessions at the schools and concludes with regional, state and national archery championships.
The 20 pilot schools chosen to participate in trap shooting are already teaching other Wildlife Department curriculum such as archery, bow hunting and fishing.
“We want those schools involved with our programs,” Springer said.
Schools in Oklahoma already field sporting clays teams through FFA, but the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program will be open to all students.
The Wildlife Department will have another training session later this summer for teachers from 30 more schools.
Those schools will introduce the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program in the spring.
A state championship shoot will be held in the fall involving the 20 pilot schools, and then another state shoot will be held in the spring with all 50 schools, Springer said.
“I feel like we will grow fairly quickly,” Springer said. “We are hoping to grow about 30 schools per year. Archery in the schools was the same way, but we exceeded that. We don't have to go out and find them.”
Archery in the Schools started in 2004 in Oklahoma at 10 pilot schools. At the first state championship shoot in 2005, 180 students participated.
Now, archery is being taught in more than 400 schools across Oklahoma, and an estimated 50,000 students are participating.
Springer said a handful of other states have a similar shooting sports program through the schools, including Texas and Arkansas.
Arkansas' program began 10 years ago and now has 5,000 kids involved in trap shooting. Schools even schedule matches against each other.
Scholastic Shooting Program participants
The 20 pilot schools involved in the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports program are Earlsboro, Depew, Moss, Luther, Claremore, Altus, Ringling, Stringtown, Keys, Locust Grove, Beggs, Wister, Fairview, Carney, Jenks, Inola, Sequoyah-Claremore, Calumet, Ringling and Coweta.