Jenks FFA chapter adds shooting sports program
Jenks FFA’s shooting sports program is now officially underway.
The chapter has been participating in shooting sports two seasons and now they have the opportunity to practice more locally. Before, students were driving 45 minutes to practice at a member’s house. Now, they can practice on Jenks Public School’s farm property.
Out of nearly 350 programs in the state, around 2/3 have shooting sports programs, however, many are smaller schools, said FFA instructor Taylor Tillinghast. For a school the size of Jenks to have a program is unprecedented.
Tillinghast, who is certified through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, had to go through the process of getting it approved at multiple levels. She had to get clearance from principals, campus police and superintendent Dr. Stacy Butterfield, but she says all were on board with adding shooting sports.
“I had a bunch of kids that had friends at other schools who were doing it and they asked ‘why don’t we do this?’ I told them to let me figure out what everyone’s opinion on it is and then go from there. I probably had seven or eight kids who really wanted to do it,” Tillinghast said.
Now, the team is comprised of 15 FFA members, mostly boys and ‘a handful of girls.’ They shoot 12 and 20 gauge shotguns at clay pigeons. Each day the students are improving thanks to the help of volunteer parents.
“I’m not that great with the teaching part,” Tillinghast said. “I have a lot of parents that come out and they’re the teachers for it because they’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have just for fun. They’ll tell kids you’re shooting too low or you’re shooting behind it, you’re not following through.”
In the coming months Jenks will travel to two competitions. On March 3, they’ll travel to Coweta to participate in the Department of Wildlife’s district shoot. In April, they’ll go to Connor State College for their annual competition.
So far, the students who have participated are enjoying it. Tillinghast says that they’re learning safety while having a good time.
“They love it,” she said. “They have a lot of fun doing it. they get to hang out with all their friends, but they also get to learn responsibility owning and operating a firearm.”