When the top 64 teams from the senior division of the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program meet at the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Jacksonville Shooting Sports Complex on June 4, those bearing the names Beebe, Fouke, Jacksonville and God’s Great Outdoors of Farmington will be carrying the top seeds going into their respective competition brackets. Junior teams will shoot June 3 with Magnolia, Corning, Southside and Alma squads filling the top seeds in their competition.
The juniors will decide their champion Friday in a 64-team bracket, while the seniors have the complex Saturday. Shooting on both days begins at 9:30 a.m., preceded by the opening ceremony and the National Anthem starting at 9 a.m.
Each top-seeded team earned their ranking in the state championship opening rounds by winning one of four regional competitions, but they all will face tough competition throughout a day of shooting if they wish to achieve the crown of Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Champion. Each bracket is filled with the top 16 teams from each region, meaning the winning team will have to triumph in six head-to-head matches to claim the top spot in this year’s competition.
Once the smoke clears, each member of the winning team in the senior division will earn college scholarships worth $1,500. The second-place team will receive $1,000 scholarships per competitor, and each shooter on the third-place squad will earn $500 scholarships. All scholarships are funded by the sales of the AGFC’s Conservation License Plates.
“It’s been a long year for some of these teams, but they’re all going to see their hard work pay off,” Jimmy Self, AYSSP coordinator for the AGFC, said. “The bracket format really puts an added element of competition into the event that the kids really enjoy. You don’t just shoot once and leave, instead you have to keep performing at a high level if you’re going to take home the trophy.”
The weekend will also see the completion of the Champion of Champions competition. All competitors in each division who shot a perfect score during regional tournaments have been invited to compete in a head-to-head event of their own. Participants will alternate shooting at individually thrown clays beginning at the first station of the trap field. Competitors who hit their clay target move to the next round, those who do not are eliminated from competition. The contest will continue until only one participant remains. The Champion of Champions in the Senior Division will not only earn the title of top shooter at the event, but also a $2,500 scholarship, thanks to a generous endowment by Dr. Doyne and Nancy Williams of Little Rock.
Spectators are welcome at the event, and bleacher seating behind many of the shooting fields allow families to come and cheer on the competitors. Some teams even bring along campers or recreational vehicles and stay overnight to make it a weekend-long event. Additionally, the AGFC will live-stream the championship rounds of competition on the AGFC’s Facebook Page with shot-by-shot commentary provided by Trey Reid, host of Arkansas Wildlife Television.
Results will be available from Friday and Saturday matches at https://apps.agfc.com/ayssp/