Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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January 8, 2014

Paoli FFA makes strides

emann@pvdemocrat.com — Though 2014 means another chance for students to make the best of a new semester, a lot of good came from a shotgun program created in 2013 for Paoli’s FFA.

Led by agriculture teacher Lindsey Pritchard mostly outside the classroom, the students’ progress was nothing short of impressive as they not only learned the responsibility of working with a firearm, but were able to build the groundwork for their skill through competition.

She feels free to brag on this because of how well they did for a first year program, going from lower rankings at district competition early on to doing as well as 19th out of 204 for one young man and 11th out of 61 for a girl on their team at the state competition back in November.

“They are representing our school very well,” said Pritchard, noting how their taste of competition was an honor because one had to be invited and they ended up being only one of 20 teams.

“We improved greatly between those two and I was so proud of them…. We were very, very honored and we were very excited to be invited.”

The requirements for students to participate, in what is primarily trap shooting and sport shooting takes a lot of commitment, including earning a hunter safety card, according to Pritchard.

It is in large part only possible because of contributions from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation, who provided items like several of the guns and some ammo, with four students allowed to be on both a junior and senior team.

Pritchard has also used this class to help the students become better people as well through doing away with bullying and improving attendance. Eventually they may be able to benefit as this could be a recruiting tool for finding colleges where they can get breaks on tuition.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have community support in this,” said Pritchard, adding how they have been going since early October when the class was approved by the school board and that they can hardly wait each day to participate.

“It is a big learning experience for them.”

Pritchard noted how much of what the students have accomplished in this has come down to having not just the dedication of the students, but also parents who are interested, citing numerous examples where they approached her with thanks for the program.

The support also brings a lot of thanks to Red Dirt Fire Arms right outside of Pauls Valley, who has provided the use of their range for practice and a lot of complimentary targets and ammo.

As far as this semester underway, the focus will be more practices on the weekends than anything else since there aren’t that many contests for the time being.

However, they will use the time to improve further by the time the next state trap shooting event is held in May.

“I am very appreciative of having students back me up… It’s nice seeing families bonding closer,” said Pritchard. “They are seeing how they have to be calm and relaxed to hit their targets.”

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