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Local schools consider shooting club

While about 300,000 people hold paid hunting licenses in Mississippi, most are older adults, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
To get more of Mississippi youths active outdoors, while promoting gun safety, the MDWFP started the Mississippi Scholastic Shooting Program about three years ago and is now looking to set up clubs at Oxford and Lafayette County schools.
“Mississippi is behind the curve on scholarship shooting,” said Jad Touchton, MDWFP Shooting Sports Coordinator at the Oxford School District Board of Trustees meeting Monday. “We started this program about three years ago, and it’s grown tremendously. The goal is to introduce more youth to the outdoors.”
The Mississippi Scholastic Shooting Program is a team-based, youth development program that uses the shotgun sports of 5 Stand and Sporting Clays to instill life skills such as discipline, safety, teamwork, ethics, self-confidence, and other life values, according to the MSSP handbook.
The program also utilizes these disciplines to teach hunting skills through the safe use of hunting equipment, including firearms, and their relationship to hunting situations.
The MSSP also provides students an opportunity to compete for scholarships and other prizes.
“We gave out $7,000 in scholarships this year, and we expect that number to triple next year,” Touchton said.
Oxford resident and avid hunter Joey Buchanan said the program if approved by the school district, would take place at the new McIvor Creek Shooting Facility at the Charles Ray Nix Wildlife Management Area near Sardis.
“We have a tremendous amount of parental support,” Buchanan said. “Now we are asking for the school district’s support.”
Buchanan said each student would learn how to safely operate a shotgun and pass a hunter safety course. Coaches must complete the MSDWFP 2-Day Shooting Coach Class before they can be a team coach.
“When we’re not competing or practicing, we would be out in the community doing community service programs,” he said. “It will be a club Oxford can be proud of.”
The program is for students in the seventh through 12th grades and if sanctioned by the school district, would receive funding from the MSDWFP through grants.
Touchton said there are currently 20 shooting clubs in Mississippi.
“The program has grown 300 percent in just the last few weeks,” he said.
Touchton said he spoke to the Lafayette County School Board recently.
“They are very interested,” he said.
Should the school districts not adopt the club, Buchanan said he is prepared to start a local club; however, the club team would not be eligible for the overall school champion award.
For more information about the Mississippi Scholastic Shooting Program, visit www.mdwfp.com/law-enforcement/ms-scholastic-shooting-program.