Elizabeth Handy, a student senior at Mohawk Valley Christian Academy in Little Falls, NY was crowned the national champion of the Air Rifle Competition Tournament. Handy said, “Coming in …
Elizabeth Handy, a student senior at Mohawk Valley Christian Academy in Little Falls, NY was crowned the national champion of the Air Rifle Competition Tournament. Handy said, “Coming in first in the nation, I was a little shocked. I think I did well, and I expected to place, not win.”
The Student Air Rifle Program is based in Oak Ridge, Missouri, and was founded in 2016, based on a pilot program launched in 2013 by the Missouri Youth Sport Shooting Alliance.
It was the success and popularity of school archery programs that prompted organizers to try something similar with air rifles.
Jake Hindman, Student Air Rifle Program founder, president and CEO said, “We saw the tremendous interest by students in the National Archery in the Schools Program and wanted to introduce firearms safety and education. Competitions are set up like archery and other sports. Teams can set up their own tournaments and can participate in as many as they want and are available. Most teams probably participate in three to five competitions. We will be putting in additional resources to grow and scale the Students Air Rifle Competition Tournaments.”
Hindman went on to say, “The Student Air Rifle Program is currently in nine states with about 175 schools taking part nationally. Teams don’t have to travel across the country to participate, as the competitions are carried out virtually.”
Connie Frasier is a long-time coach at the Mohawk Valley archery team, and when the opportunity arose to organize a team to take part in air rifle competitions, she was happy to lead that effort as well.
Frasier said she found a trainer in Harrisburg, PA who was willing to train her and other adult volunteers, but the problem was trying to arrange a time when everyone could travel down to meet him.
Frasier said, “In Pennsylvania the trainer’s job is paid for by a grant. He brought 10 air rifles and trained four of us. Hopefully over time we can turn it over to someone else. It was such a blessing.”
Frasier continued, “Teaching students how to properly handle an air rifle gives them a chance to learn safety and avoid potential tragedies. You read stories about a child picking up a gun and shooting somebody. They don’t know about gun safety. We teach them proper use and safety.”
The grand champion Elizabeth Handy said, “Winning the national competition was a real thrill and that just taking part in the program was a reward in itself. It was a great program to be part of. They prioritized safety so much, and enjoying yourself. It’s not about winning, it’s to be safe, have fun, and get better.”
Hindman in conclusion said, “Students really enjoy the program and the idea of participating. We would absolutely like for the program to continue to grow. One of our goals is to reach 100,000 students annually through the program.”
For more information, visit: studentairrifleprogram.org.
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