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Scholastic Pistol Program on Target
New aspect of popular youth shooting program focuses on handguns
By Kevin Reese
Photos courtesy of Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation
Vincent Hancock and Kim Rhode took home the gold in London. Jon Michael McGrath holds numerous world and national titles. Another young force to reckon with, Morgan Dulaney, won a national championship in 2011 and has a bright future in national and world-level competition. What do all of these athletes have in common? They are all phenomenal shotgun athletes, among the best our world has to offer, and their roots run deep in the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP), a program administered by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF). Though SSSF has experienced phenomenal success with SCTP, and numerous top-ranked American shotgun shooters have filed through SCTP ranks, youth handgun shooters have largely been left by the wayside to be encouraged and coached individually without the prospect of a truly focused, funded program.
SSSF has answered that call. The Scholastic Pistol Program (SPP) was unveiled as SSSF's newest extension program and is now underway. The primary focus of SPP is to foster values, encourage good sportsmanship, instill discipline and inspire the competitive spirit through team handgun shooting sports, much like SCTP has done through the shotgun sports.
"We are excited to add this new program to the SSSF and to be able to offer yet another shooting sport opportunity to our existing and future members," said SSSF Executive Director, Dan Hathaway.
SPP was designed to introduce youth to team handgun shooting. SPP members can join one of three divisions:
- Junior -- Ages 12 through 16
- Senior -- Ages 17 through 20
- Collegiate -- No age limit. Must be a full time student.
Teams in each division are comprised of four shooters, and scores are based on both speed and accuracy. Each shooter is required to engage steel targets through four timed stages of fire. Times and penalties for missed targets are added up among team members, and the team's collective score is published. Match placements are based on lowest scores. Currently, eligible handguns consist of semi-automatic actions chambered in 9mm. Also, .22-caliber semi-automatic handguns have their place within SPP as excellent firearms to use for practice sessions.
The first SPP event coincided with the program's launch in Sparta, Ill., during the SCTP Team Nationals this summer. Some141 shooters registered for the inaugural match, and more than 30,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition were fired; in excess of 5,000 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition were fired during practice sessions.
According to Scott Moore, SPP director, "With the help of Glock and Smith & Wesson, we think SPP's launch was a huge success. All the young adults and coaches were excited about the new program. Several of the athletes showed an immediate talent for competitive speed shooting."
As SPP gains steam and adds state advisors, registered events are sure to begin cropping up throughout the nation.
Though SSSF certainly possesses the know-how to produce national level shooting programs, the keys to success rest largely upon the shoulders of certified coaches, coordinators and volunteers. Adults desiring to help youth learn integrity, responsibility, ethics, teamwork and sportsmanship through handgun shooting sports are invited to partner with SPP.
Complete details, including registration, eligibility, volunteering or sponsorships, are available by calling SSSF headquarters at 586-739-7287 or emailing Scott Moore at email@example.com. Tracking SPP progress is easy by accessing SPP's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ScholasticPistolProgram.