Region 8's youth shooting program growing - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Region 8's youth shooting program growing

BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - The sound of a shot gun is a sweet noise to the ears of these middle and high school shooters on the Brookland Bearcat's Trap Team. They're members for different reasons, but all agree it's the only sport for them. "Well this is fun and you don't have to run a lot," says one of the members Devin Douglas.

Just so happens they all live in a state boasting to have the largest youth shooting sports program in the nation.

Chuck Woodson with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says the 5-year-old program started in 2007 with 125 coaches and 918 shooters. Today they have 700 coaches and almost 6,000 athletes. However, the growth is not shocking Woodson. "It's the natural fit for the Natural State. There you go," says Woodson.

While the Bearcats have only been a part of the state-wide program for three years, they say their growth has been amazing. Currently they are looking at about 50 shooters.

One of their Coaches Jim Magee says while these numbers are encouraging, they're just numbers. He says the real miracle is the community's support and backing. "Between the parents that have helped and the businesses that have helped that's what's really made the difference," says Magee.

Woodson says they plan to start a college level program state wide. The University of the Ozarks already has one underway, but they are looking to get one started at both the University or Arkansas and in Jonesboro at Arkansas State.

Both Woodson and Coach Magee agree trap shooting helps improve gun safety across the state. Magee also says concentration and motor skills are developed and improved in the kids as well.

One of the other coaches says she has seen a huge difference in the team member's confidence and social skills through the sport. "When the students come and they realize that they are making friends. We've had so many come up and say if it wasn't for this sport I wouldn't have become friends with so and so," says Coach Heather Magee.

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