County schools implement archery, shooting sports
A scholastic shooting sports program is the newest offering for Franklin County students.
“We will be looking for any youth who would like to start shooting competitively for skeet, sporting clays and trap,” said Tim Burks, network administrator for Franklin County Schools. Burks’ son Camron is involved in trap shooting, and Burks is passionate about providing sports opportunities behind the conventional options – football, baseball, basketball and softball – to Franklin County youth. “We attempted last year with an archery program, but we just didn’t get enough participation,” Burks said. This year, archery will be offered as a class for credit at Vina.
“Our National Wild Turkey Federation banquet raised enough monies to be able to purchase the equipment needed for an archery program at Vina High School this year. The state of Alabama gives class credit for archery,” Burks said.
Burks said students are already enrolled in archery for this semester, “we’re just waiting for the equipment to come in.” The class will take the place of PE. The $2,700 grant from the NWTF will provide the necessary funding for this inaugural year.
“It was a fairly significant contribution to help them get started,” explained Howard Dahlem, regional director for the NWTF. “These types of grants are happening across the state.”
From Dahlem’s perspective, shooting sports are key for turning young people into hunters who will continue to further the NWTF’s conservation efforts.
“Hunters pay for about 85 percent of conservation,” Dahlem said. “If we can get kids shooting, we hope we can transition them into hunters.”
Dahlem and Burks said 60-65 schools in Alabama have a shooting program.
In addition to grants from the NWTF, Burks said shooting sports will be funded by endowment through Midway USA as well as sponsors, with a goal of developing a self-supporting program to fund competition fees and equipment needs.
The archery program will pilot at Vina this year, to possibly be expanded at other schools in coming years. The class currently includes five girls and 14 boys. Sophomore, juniors and seniors will receive class credit for the course.
County-wide scholastic shooting sports activities will take place outside of school hours and off school property, said Burks, who is still in the process of identification good locations across the Burks and Dahlem hope a greater focus on shooting sports in the school system will also make students more aware of NWTF scholarships.
“Any senior can qualify for a local scholarship to be given away. We do one in every county across the state,” Dahlem said.
Businesses in Franklin County are invited to sponsor youth shooting through the Midway USA endowment fund (www.midwayusafoundation.org/), which matches donations. Additionally, Burks said they will be doing a fundraiser soon. “Midway has given us the custom 28 gauge SKB side-by-side shotgun to sell chances on. This gun is valued at just over $2800,” he said. “Monies we raise, we can keep or put back into the fund. Monies we return to the fund will be matched dollar for dollar just as if anyone places money into that account for us. These funds are secured and can only be used for the shooting sports programs need.”
Students will head to the Palmetto Shooting Complex for a sporting clays competition Friday. “They will have chances to win prizes and cash awards. We will get $2,500 from Midway to go into our endowment account just for showing up to shoot as a school team,” Burks said.
The Franklin County program will be a part of the NSSA/SCTP, the National Scholastic Clay Target Program.