Shooting sports in Oklahoma are growing rapidly due to the tremendous investment of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and the MidwayUSA Foundation. These two organizations have partnered to implement a Scholastic Shooting Sports program for middle schools and high schools, which now includes more than 150 schools.
The MidwayUSA Foundation awarded the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife a grant to initiate the program. In addition, the foundation awarded each school that attended instructor training a $10,000 endowment to jump-start the school program. The Department of Wildlife also awarded each participating school a $2,000 grant, which included start-up equipment and supplies.
Teams consist of one to 15 shooters, and the summation of the 10 highest individual scores, of which at least three must be from both genders, comprise the team score. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife conducts four regional qualifying shoots and a culminating state shoot each year. The state shoot consists of a 16-team bracket with head-to-head matches in each round. The competitions recognize individual and team placements.
Chisholm High School in North Enid, Oklahoma, started a trap-shooting team in the spring of 2014. Participation has grown from 12 students in the first year to 40 students this past spring. The high school team placed third, fourth and seventh at the state shoots the past three years. In addition, a middle school team was organized in 2015 and claimed the state contest in 2015 and 2016.
The program has introduced trap shooting as a new activity to several students, many of whom had never handled a firearm. It has been exciting to watch the development of the students in their knowledge of firearm safety while improving their shooting skills.
The financial support by several organizations has been instrumental to the program’s success. The MidwayUSA endowment program provides grants of up to five percent of the endowment total once a year to offset expenses. MidwayUSA also offers promotional items to be used as fundraisers. The proceeds are contributed to the school endowment fund or spent on current year expenses. Dollars contributed to the endowment are matched by the MidwayUSA Foundation. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife has contributed more than $40,000 to Chisholm’s endowment fund by way of students’ participation at regional and state trap shoots.
Another organization that has been important to the growth of this program is the National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation. The school’s program received three separate grants for equipment and ammunition. For the past two seasons, students did not have to incur any out-of-pocket expenses for practice rounds and/or ammunition.
Locally, the Grand National Quail Hunt Foundation also provided grant money to pay for practice rounds and ammunition for students during the previous three years. In just five years, Chisholm’s MidwayUSA Foundation endowment fund has grown to more than $91,000, which will provide $4,500 in funding for the 2019 season.
Thanks to many great organizations promoting youth shooting sports, high school and middle school students in Enid, Oklahoma have an excellent opportunity to learn firearm safety while improving their shooting proficiency. Student participation has grown steadily since the program’s inception. The financial support of these organizations has eliminated virtually all barriers to a student’s ability to participate in the program. The school’s sponsors and administrators have observed numerous students who are new to shooting sports, grow in confidence and improve their shooting proficiency, which has been very rewarding.
Roydon Tilley is superintendent of the Chisholm Public Schools in Enid, Oklahoma, a position he has held for the past 13 years. He has 29 years of experience in education serving as math teacher, assistant principal, principal and coach at two different schools. He may be reached at email@example.com.