I recently spent some time with Jake Hindman, the driving force behind this new concept in bringing airgun competition to our youth in the place where they spend a big portion of their time – school. With all of the anti-gun rhetoric usually appearing in mainstream media, those of us in the pro-gun camp might have been feeling that there wasn’t much hope of turning things around. However, even before the recent resounding political defeat of the anti-gunners, there was a ray of hope appearing in the form of programs starting up at a number of high schools and colleges that were bringing back shotgun and rifle shooting sports to the school campus. That was good news, but only worked at the higher grade levels due to costs and requirement that students go to a shooting range. Enter the Student Air Rifle Program, designed from the ground up to be a teacher/school friendly activity with a solid curriculum aimed at younger students as part of their physical education classes and not requiring range facilities.
SAR sprang from an already successful model that had been created to expand archery as part of the physical education curriculum in elementary and junior high schools known as NASP – the National Archery in the Schools Program. I found out about SAR through my good friend Dick at Predator International. Predator supplies the lead-free SAR Journey pellets that allow these programs to shoot indoors in gyms and cafeterias where lead pellets would definitely not be welcome.
The SAR Mission Statement reads: The mission of the Student Air Rifle Program is to facilitate an introduction to the lifetime sport of target shooting to school-aged youth in grades 4 through 12. Its curriculum is designed for a one or two week teaching unit that teachers can adapt to meet their needs. Of course, safety of everyone involved during shooting sessions is paramount and the first lesson covers the 4 main safety rules regarding handling guns and tests the students’ knowledge before moving on. Next, students are introduced to the air rifle: what it is, how it works and how to operate and maintain one. The air rifles used in SAR were a collaborative effort between the folks behind the program and UmarexUSA out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The concept rifle they came up with, the Embark, is a break barrel springer in .177 caliber sporting a unique green color that makes it a standout from anything else out there on the market. Best of all, these new guns are available from UmarexUSA to the general public! That means if a student wanted to pursue the shooting sports outside of the school setting, he or she would be able to purchase the same rifle shot in school competition. It is a cool little single shot that will also appeal to many airgunners.
AofA (www.airgunsofarizona.com) is supportive of programs such as this and encouraged me to introduce SAR to the viewership of this blog. They know promoting youth shooting sports is good for all shooting sports and helps introduce safe firearms handling. It also instills a positive political view in future voters. It is the hope of this new Student Air Rifle program that it will grow to reach all 50 states just as its sister archery program is close to doing (47 and counting). If you want to help promote this curriculum in your state or just want additional information, reply to me or head over to the website: www.studentairrifleprogram.org.