The Altus High School team earned another state championship at the 2017 Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program state shoot April 18, 2017, in El Reno. (DANIEL GRIFFITH/ODWC)
Altus Team Breaks Away to Take State Championship
Sequoyah High Wins 2nd in Scholastic Shooting Sports' Finale
Altus High School is again the reigning Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program (OKSSSP) champion, breaking 216 of a possible 250 in the title round of the 2017 state shoot. The event was held Tuesday, April 18, at the Oklahoma Trap and Skeet Association in El Reno.
Altus is among more than 150 schools participating in OKSSSP, a trap-based program offered through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's suite of outdoor education programs.
"OKSSSP has proven to be immensely popular among the schools that have joined," said Damon Springer, a senior information and education specialist with ODWC, and OKSSSP's coordinator. "Students are given a chance to learn about firearms and firearms safety, and they are given a chance to represent their schools in competition."
Since the program's inception and first state shoot in fall of 2013, Altus has taken home the top trophy. The addition of four regional qualifying events -- as well as a bracket-style format for both senior- and junior-level teams at the state competition -- began in spring 2015 as the program grew to more than 80 schools.
Sequoyah High School took second place at the 2017 state shoot with a score of 201.
"Practice and discipline are the keys to success in this game," Springer said. "Shooters have to hone their skills and stay sharp. Proper shooting form and staying consistent are vital."
Leading up to the 2017 state shoot, Altus topped the list of Southwest Regional competitors with a 201, and Sequoyah led the Northeast Regional with a 207. Eagletown, at 185, was the Southeast Regional winner, and Chisholm was the Northwest Regional winner at 196.
Chisholm finished the 2017 state competition in third place, while Stilwell and Blair were fourth and fifth, respectively.
At the individual level, Pond Creek-Hunter's Shelby Skaggs shot a perfect 25 to top the list of senior female shooters, while Blair's Kaden Hans came out on top on the senior male side following a three-way tiebreaker with Hunter Pence of Altus and Ryan Seabolt of Sand Springs. Hans, Pence and Seabolt each recorded a perfect 25 in regular competition. Skaggs won top overall senior shooter as she outshot Hans on the third tiebreaker station, again breaking all five clay pigeons.
On the junior side, Navajo became the champion with a 186-160 final against Sequoyah, and Chisholm's junior team took third place. Individually, Kaehl Smith of Wesleyan Christian School and Jacob Diller of Timberlake Schools each scored a perfect 25. Smith prevailed in the shoot-off, winning both top male shooter and top overall shooter for the junior category. Shay Skaggs of Pond Creek-Hunter took top female shooter with 23.
OKSSSP member schools receive a start-up kit from ODWC, valued about $2,000. The kit includes a gun safe, a target thrower, 20 boxes of clay targets, 20 pairs of safety glasses and 600 earplugs for hearing protection. Additionally, each high school receives endowment funds from program benefactors Larry and Brenda Potterfield totaling $10,000, of which the school may use up to 5 percent once per year to help fund the program.
Senior teams that participate in their respective regional shoot receive an additional $2,500 in their endowment, and teams that place in the top five receive even more money ($5,000 for first place, $4,000 for second place, $3,000 for third place, $2,000 for fourth place, and $1,000 for fifth place). The same amounts are awarded again for the top five senior teams at the state level.
Larry Potterfield said, "Brenda and I are so blessed to be able to give financial support to youth shooting sports throughout the country, and are happy to contribute to the success of Oklahoma's Scholastic Shooting Sports Program."
To see all team scores and individual scores from the 2017 OKSSSP state shoot, go to bit.ly/oksssp_results.
Anyone wanting to learn more about OKSSSP or those interested in starting the program at their school may call Springer at (405) 317-6316 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top senior female shooters are Erin Waldrop of Altus, second runner-up; Shelby Skaggs of Pond Creek-Hunter, champion senior female and top overall senior shooter; and McKinzie Jones of Sequoyah, first runner-up. (DANIEL GRIFFITH/ODWC)
Top senior male shooters are Hunter Pence of Altus, first runner-up; Kaden Hans of Blair, champion senior male shooter; and Ryan Seabolt of Sand Springs, second runner-up. (DANIEL GRIFFITH/ODWC)
Top junior female shooters are Casady Sublett of Hyrdo-Eakley, runner-up; and Shay Skaggs of Pond Creek-Hunter, champion junior female shooter. Not pictured: Brooklyn Higgenbottom of Boswell, second runner-up. (DANIEL GRIFFITH/ODWC)
Top junior male shooters are Jacob Diller of Timberlake, runner-up; and Kaehl Smith of Wesleyan Christian School, champion junior male and top overall junior shooter. Not pictured: Teddy Bowels of Colbert, second runner-up. (DANIEL GRIFFITH/ODWC)